Three Petrobras Workers Die Following Friday Explosion

By Paul Kiernan Features Dow Jones Newswires

Three workers at an offshore drill rig contracted by Brazilian state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA died of burn injuries following an explosion Friday, raising concerns that the company's ongoing cost cuts are impacting safety.

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Petrobras, as the firm is known, said the explosion happened Friday morning in the boiler room of a drill ship operated by Odebrecht Óleo e Gás in the Marlim field off Brazil's southeast coast. While the accident was contained, Petrobras said Friday afternoon that three workers suffered full-body burns.

Since then all three have died: 33-year-old Eduardo Aragão de Lima, 29-year-old Ericson Nascimento de Freitas, and 44-year-old Jorge Luiz Damião, the company said in an update Sunday.

The accident was Petrobras' worst since an explosion on a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, or FPSO, operated by Norway's BW Offshore left nine workers dead and 26 injured in 2015.

Petrobras' unions seized on the incident as evidence that layoffs and cost cuts carried out in recent years, as the company struggles to pay down its giant debt load, have weighed on safety.

"This type of accident has its origins in the workforce reduction that Petrobras has been implementing," said Paulo Neves, a director at the national Oilworkers' Federation, or FUP.

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Petrobras didn't provide information on the causes of the explosion, saying only that a commission has been formed to investigate.

Chief Executive Pedro Parente, who took the helm of the company a year ago, has repeatedly said he aims to improve Petrobras' safety record.

Write to Paul Kiernan at paul.kiernan@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 12, 2017 11:36 ET (15:36 GMT)