A natural gas exploration rig owned by India-based Aban Offshore has sunk in the Caribbean sea less than a month after a Transocean-owned rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico.
All 100 workers have escaped by boat after water gushed into one of the giant submarine rafts supporting the huge structure.
The Aban Pearl rig was drilling about 16 gas wells in the Mariscal Sucre natural gas project for Venezuela’s state-run company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Venezuela’s Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said the well has been safely sealed and there is no gas leak or threat to the environment.
Ramirez added the rig owner would likely try to refloat it. Two more exploration rigs are travelling to Venezuela from India, according to Reuters.
The accident will not affect the project and its first gas is expected as scheduled in 2012.
The BP spill has called for tighter offshore drilling regulations in the US while Venezuela’s accident could bring further scrutiny into offshore exploration, according to industry observers.