UPDATE 3-Crew evacuated from Petrobras rig after it tilted; now stable
SAO PAULO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - An offshore drilling platform operated for Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras was partially evacuated after tilting on Friday, but there was no risk of it sinking, the platform's owner, the company and a labor union said. Crew members were moved to another rig after the SS-53 platform, in the Campos oil basin off Rio de Janeiro, began to list at about 0100 local time (0400 GMT) Friday, according to Noble Corporation, the platform's owner. In the "ballast control incident," 77 non-essential personnel were evacuated, Noble said in a statement. There were no injuries and no pollution was caused, it said. A Petrobras spokesman said the platform was stabilized and disconnected from the well after tipping as much as 3.5 degrees. "The incident occurred due to flooding in one of the tanks of the vessel, caused by failure of the ballast system, which controls the stability of the valve unit," the spokesman said in an emailed statement. As a drilling rig, the platform does not pump oil or contribute to current Petrobras production. Known as the Noble Paul Wolff, the rig operates in the Marlim field, which covers old producing wells and new areas being developed in the deeper subsalt area. Workers had been repairing a well on the platform, said Jose Maria Rangel, director of Brazil's national oil workers federation. Rangel said 113 workers had been on the rig, which carries a Liberian flag. The incident comes amid concerns that unresolved safety issues may cause fresh production stoppages for Petrobras on platforms in the Campos Basin, according to a report by the local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo on Sunday. "We still have a long way to go in the area of oil safety," Rangel said. "Oversight units have not accompanied the growth of the oil industry." A limited crew of 36 specialists remained on board to restore the platform to normal conditions and internationally accepted safety measures, Petrobras said. Production by Petrobras has stagnated for more than two years as new fields have been delayed, output from old fields has declined and the government has ordered platform shutdowns to perform emergency maintenance. Further stoppages could limit the growth of output that's expected with the start-up of new platforms this year. The rig, which houses a maximum crew of 125, was built in 1980 and upgraded in 2006, according to Noble's website Petrobras said on Tuesday it would scale back near-term investments and set a limit on long-term growth in order to check years of missed targets, soaring costs and debt.
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