Two die at Petrobras terminal; fire hits offshore platform: union

Dragged under water with security belts

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Two workers died at a construction project at a Brazilian oil terminal operated by state-run Petrobras on Tuesday, adding to a string of fatal and life-threatening accidents, a union representing oil workers said in a statement.

The workers drowned after scaffolding they were erecting collapsed at the end of a pier operated by Transpetro, Petrobras' pipeline and shipping unit, the union, known as FUP, said. The pier was at Transpetro's Barra do Riacho Terminal in Espirito Santo state.

The employees were wearing security belts even though work authorizations recommended that the employees only use life-jackets, FUP said. Locked to the scaffolding by the belts, they were dragged under water when the scaffolding fell. FUP said it took an hour for trained emergency workers to arrive and co-workers had to recover the bodies out of the water.

Transpetro said in a statement that it regrets the deaths of Alex Vieira Ribeiro, 39, and Oseias Damasceno Soares, 27, who worked for Transpetro contractor, Espiral Engenharia. Transpetro also said it is investigating the accident.

Petrobras officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A FUP affiliate known as SindipetroNF also said on Tuesday that there was a fire on the P-53 offshore oil platform in the Marlim Leste field operated by Petrobras northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

The fire occurred in an area 30 metres (33 yards) from two leaking high-pressure natural gas lines, the union said.

The fire was quickly controlled but only after manual intervention of the platform crew, the union said, adding that automatic carbon-dioxide extinguishing units and temperature sensors designed to extinguish fires automatically failed to work.

The latest problems come less than a month after a gas leak on the P-40 platform in the nearby Marlim Sul field forced the temporary shutdown of the unit, part of one of Brazil's most important oilfields.

The accidents Tuesday and Sunday also come four months after an explosion at a Petrobras offshore field off Espirito Santo state killed nine people and injured 26. Safety problems in March forced the temporary shutdown of the P-58 platform in Petrobras' Parque das Baleias field.

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