Operated by Chevron Corporation and Marathon Oil, Petronius is a deepwater oil platform; the compliant piled tower is 2,001 feet high and extends 1,754 feet above the seabed. It was built from 1997 to its completion in May 2000, at a cost of $500 million. Some considered it to be the tallest free-standing structure in the world until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was built. During construction, the original South Deck Module was lost while being lifted; the component, lost in December 1998, was later replaced with a module containing crew quarters, production equipment, and waterflood equipment that was built in 12 months in Houma, Louisiana.
The multi-deck platform is nearly 210 by 141 feet and is over 60 feet high. There are 21 well slots. Weighing about 43,000 tons, the platform sits about 130 miles to the southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. Its flexible design enables the tower to sway more than 2 percent of its height. By comparison, most buildings are restricted to moving to just within 0.5 percent of their height. The pilings are built to withstand all types of weather, including hurricanes. The tower can sway up to 25 feet with a rotational sway of up to 10 feet.
Petronius, named for a Roman writer, is capable of extracting approximately 282,517 cubic feet, or 50,000 barrels, of oil per day. It’s also able to extract 70 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from its location in Viosca Knoll Block 786. Discovered in 1995, the Petronius field is thought to have estimated equivalent reserves of as much of 100 million barrels of oil.
The oil produced from the rig is sent to a 20-mile-long, 14-inch diameter pipeline, to the Flotta oil terminal. A 12-mile, 12-inch diameter gas pipeline is also connected to the complex.
Production stopped in 2005 with a direct hit by Hurricane Ivan. The storm damaged the rig’s crew quarters, production equipment, and various structures on the deck.
Accidents on Petronius
The most notable incident involving the structure was when a lift cable broke, sending the South Module to the sea floor, never to be recovered. Derrick Barge 50 had previously installed the North Module, which was heavier. The suspected cause was corrosion at the cable core, which could have weakened the cable, leaving it vulnerable to breaking. Internal corrosion would be hard to spot because it is not seen from the surface.
In 2003, a crane tilted as two casing joints were being offloaded. The operator was able to lock down the equipment without being injured. A vessel sustained minor damage to its guard rail. A crane engine fire occurred in November 2001, but no equipment was damaged, and nobody was injured; the fire was caused by a small oil leak from a hose, which came in contact with an exhaust manifold. There was also a flash fire involving a water flood injection pump, which sustained minor damage, the following December. There were no injuries.
The platform is equipped for emergencies. There are three life pods that can lower workers into the water. Mandatory requirements include wearing hard hats, ear plugs, eye protection, and steel-toed boots.
If you’ve been injured on the Petronius oil rig and are seeking compensation, fill out our online form to receive detailed information on how to proceed.