World News

TIMELINE - Major offshore accidents in the global oil industry

(Reuters) - An offshore gas drilling platform sank off the coast of Venezuela on Thursday, less than a month after a rig sank off the coast of Louisiana and left thousands of barrels of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

A view of the Aban Pearl gas rig in the Caribbean sea, along the Venezuelan coast May 6, 2010. REUTERS/PDVSA/Handout

The accidents, particularly the Horizon spill, may lead to more scrutiny over offshore and deepwater oil drilling, which many energy analysts consider crucial to the world’s future supply of crude oil and natural gas.

Following is a timeline of selected major offshore platform and drilling accidents in the global oil and gas industry.

1969 -- A blowout at Platform A offshore near Santa Barbara, California led to a spill estimated at up to 100,000 barrels of crude oil, fouling the California coastline. The

spill led to broad opposition to offshore drilling near California, and later helped spur the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

1979 -- The Pemex-operated Ixtoc I offshore well in the Campeche Bay of Mexico suffered a blow out, eventually spewing up to 3 million barrels of crude oil in the worst offshore spill in North American history.

1980 -- Alexander Kielland, a floating platform for off-duty workers, capsized in the North Sea, killing 123 people.

1982 -- The Ocean Ranger semi-submersible drilling rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, while operating the Hibernia oil field. The accident, which occurred during a huge storm, killed 84 crew members.

1984 -- A blowout on the Enchova platform operated by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras in the Campos Basin caused an explosion and a fire that led to the death of dozens of workers.

1988 -- The Piper Alpha platform exploded and sank while drilling in the North Sea in a field operated by Occidental Petroleum, killing 167 workers.

1989 -- U.S. drilling ship Seacrest capsized during a typhoon in the Gulf of Thailand, killing more than 90 people.

1995 -- Thirteen people were killed and many injured in an explosion on a Mobil oil rig off coast of Nigeria.

2001 -- The P-36 offshore production platform operated by Brazilian state oil company Petrobras was rocked by explosions killed 11 people. It sank off the coast of

Rio de Janeiro five days later, spilling some of the 10,000 barrels of fuel and crude it was storing into the Atlantic.

2005 -- A fire destroyed the Mumbai High North processing platform off India’s west coast, affecting 123,000 bpd of crude production, or 15 percent of the country’s domestic output, and killing 12 people. The platform was owned by ONGC.

2007 -- During stormy weather, the Usumacinta rig collided with the Kab-101 platform off the coast of Mexico, causing fuel leaks and killing 21 workers who tried to flee in life rafts in one of state oil firm Pemex’s worst accidents.

2009 -- The West Atlas mobile drilling rig leaked oil and gas into the East Timor Sea from the Montara oil field near Australia, and later sank after a fire. The spill continued for months before relief wells were drilled to plug the leak, depositing millions of gallons of crude into an ecologically sensitive marine ecosystem.

April 20, 2010 -- Explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd’s drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP kills 11 workers. The undersea well has been gushing roughly

5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) per day. The oil spill could become the worst in U.S. history and threatens an environmental catastrophe along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

May 13, 2010 -- A Venezuelan natural gas exploration rig sank in the Caribbean sea early on Thursday. All 95 workers on the rig were rescued and there was no gas leak, the government said.

Complied by Alonso Soto, Brian Ellsworth and Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker