Petrobras drops riser in deep-water Gulf

An 8,000-foot section of pipe running from the sea floor to a connector that led to a Petrobras floating production ship in the Gulf of Mexico became detached last month and sank to the sea floor.

The pipe, known as a riser, was connected to a subsea well in the Chinook field located about 165 miles offshore Louisiana in an area of the Gulf known as Walker Ridge.

The well was not in production at the time, according to Melissa Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, so it does not appear that oil was spilled.

The device the riser was attached to — a 130-ton submersed tube known as a buoyancy can — drifted to within a few miles of Chevron’s Tahiti production spar before it was intercepted, according to the website gCaptain.com, which was the first to report the incident.

BOEMRE was notified of the incident on March 23.

Petrobras has formed an investigative committee to look into the cause of the incident, according to a statement from the company.

BOEMRE approved a permit for the vessel to begin production from a number of previously drilled wells in mid-March. The floating production, storage and offloading vessel, or FPSO, has a production capacity of 80,000 barrels of oil per day and 16 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

3 Comments

  1. Hotpuppy

    Not particularly exciting. Good thing the Chron isn’t patrolling the water around the vessel with a blacklight. They might catch someone peeing off the side of the ship and then we would have to read about that. If anything it shows that yes, things happen and yes the systems work as designed because the item was recovered. Losing 8,000 feet of pipe would be an expensive mistake. Dropping it and then having it float off for a few minutes until you lasso it and drag it back is just not news…. it’s boring.

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  2. Tom Fowler

    Hotpuppy:
    Actually, we’re investing in a remote operated vehicle equipped with blacklight camera for just such an incident. We’re going to try and create a YouTube channel dedicated to it. Thanks for your support!
    (Full disclosure: I’m kidding)

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  3. almostdallas

    @Hotpuppy – Re-read the article. Petrobras *did* lose 8000 ft of pipe. It’s piled like pasta on the seafloor.

    The only thing they lassoed was the cork the riser was supposed to attach to. And it didn’t “float off for a few minutes”. It appears to have been lost as it wended its way across tens of miles of open Gulf before drifting dangerously close to a production facility. Nothing “boring” about that.

    Let’s keep in mind that Petrobras lost a rig of it’s own about 10 years ago. Eleven people were killed then, as well. What’s especially frightening is that BOEMRE has known about this latest incident for a week and a half and not a peep. Too busy fretting over all the ‘unused oil and gas leases’, I guess.

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