August 16, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Remembering an Accident: The Enchova Central Platform

Enchova Central Platform

It can be the evacuations that cause the fatalities of a disaster, such as in the case of the Enchova Central Platform.

Petrobras currently operates the Enchova field, just as it did in 1984. When a fire broke out and explosions started on the Enchova Central Platform on August 16, 1984, crews reacted quickly and moved to evacuate. Despite the peril, it was the evacuation that caused the deaths of 42 people.

Fires on the Enchova Central Platform began after drill pressure controls failed to contain their compressed oil reserves — known as a blowout.

Lifeboats and helicopters evacuated most of the platform’s workers. One lifeboat’s bow hook lowering mechanism malfunctioned during the evacuation, leaving it hanging vertically. Eventually, the boat’s supporting cables snapped and it fell 20m into the sea, killing 36 people. Another six workers died after attempting to escape by jumping from the platform into the sea.

The Enchova Central Platform suffered another blowout on April 24, 1988. During work to convert the platform from oil production to gas production, one of its 21 wells blew out before igniting. The fire led to massive damage topside, though all workers safely evacuated to a nearby floating accommodation ship without a casualty.

The platform remained on fire for a month. Petrobras eventually drilled two relief wells to control the blowout, before declaring the platform a total loss. The company replaced it with a new facility, commencing production nearly 18 months after the second accident.

Source: Offshore Technology,Enchova Central Platform disaster, Brazilian Atlantic Ocean, 1984.”

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Accident, Investigations
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