Published:  12:33 AM, 14 November 2017 Last Update: 12:35 AM, 14 November 2017

Pioneers push limits on Brazil's deep-sea oil frontier

Pioneers push limits on Brazil's deep-sea oil frontier An aerial view of the dense maze of pipes and valves on the Cidade de Itaguai oil platform, anchored off the coast of Brazil. -AFP

Scanning the maze of pipes and valves sprouting from one of Brazil's pioneering deep Atlantic oil platforms, Lucas Azevedo doesn't mince words. "We're sitting on a bomb," says Azevedo, safety officer for Brazilian company Petrobras's Cidade de Itaguai platform, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

At 28, Azevedo is responsible for enforcing rules designed to prevent everything from platform crew members falling down stairs to the entire place blowing up. And the prospect of a platform turning into a fireball while sucking oil out from miles under the ocean floor is not an altogether unreasonable fear.

The platform actually a converted oil tanker -- is crammed with high-pressure networks of oil and natural gas lines, not to mention the 1.6 million barrels of oil it stores in its hold.

"A gas leak could provoke an explosion.with very serious fatalities," Azevedo says, when asked his greatest concern. Anchored in sometime stormy waters 7,350 feet (2,240 meters) deep, the Cidade de Itaguai platform defies nature's most primal forces -- and what until recently were considered humankind's own limitations.

-AFP, Rio de Janeiro


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