Petrobras setbacks threaten 2014 oil, gas production goals
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 3 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA suffered another setback in its effort to boost oil output last month when Italian contractor Saipem SpA dropped a 2.3 km steel pipe into the Atlantic Ocean.
On March 16, the rigging used to wrangle the pipe into position on a floating oil platform failed, and the high-grade, metal-alloy tubes plunged about 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) to the seabed, a total, crumpled loss.
The pipe itself was worth about $2 million but the cost of the accident will be much higher, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
By setting back efforts to expand Roncador, Brazil's No. 2 oil field, by at least a month, Petrobras will lose tens of millions of dollars in oil output, salaries and equipment leases when it can least afford it.
"The series of management and engineering problems the company faces is flabbergasting," said Cleveland Jones, a professor and researcher with Brazil's National Petroleum and Gas Institute at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
"This may have been an unfortunate accident, but it comes as the company's organizational problems are becoming more evident."
Petrobras's oil and gas production in February fell again from a year earlier, extending more than five years of stagnant output.
This is starving Petrobras of revenue and helping drive up debt. Despite a $221 billion five-year investment plan, the company has had little success transforming giant new offshore discoveries into increased output. Continuación...