OIL AND GAS | Brazil halts platform operation on safety grounds

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Brazil’s oil regulator said on Thursday it halted operations of state oil company Petrobras’  offshore P-33 platform, citing safety concerns.

The platform in mid-July reported a vapor leak that did not cause any injuries or damage but sparked union complaints.

“With the goal of protecting the safety of operations and the workers … the National Petroleum Agency decided to suspend operations on the P-33 platform until the levels of security required by the (agency) are reestablished,” the agency said in a statement.

The P-33 platform operates the Marlim field in the Santos Basin, off the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, with a production capacity of 63,000 barrels per day.

In another incident, a small fire broke out on Wednesday at the Petrobras P-35 platform, also in the Campos Basin, the company reported on Thursday. It said the fire was quickly controlled with no workers injured and no equipment damaged.

The company said that fire, which did not affect platform operations, was also caused by a leak in a vapor pipe.

Since the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some environmentalists have raised questions about Brazil’s offshore oil industry, operating in increasingly deep waters.

Petrobras and Brazilian authorities say safety standards are strong enough to continue deep water operations without threatening the environment.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Denise Luna; Editing by David Gregorio)

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