Natural Gas Exploration Rig Sinks in Caribbean Sea, No Leakage Reported

A Venezuelan natural gas exploration rig sank in the Caribbean Sea early Thursday, but all 95 workers were evacuated safely and there was no leakage, the government said.

"Fortunately all our workers are safe and fortunately the well presents no risk to our environment," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state TV, saying there was no gas escaping. President Hugo Chavez announced the news via Twitter, saying all workers had been taken from the Aban Pearl rig, located close to Venezuela's far north east coast in a region close to the Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Reuters reports.

The exploration rig, Aban Pearl, was operated by PDVSA in the gulf of Paria, near Trinidad and Tobago. Venezuela is seeking to taken advantage of its massive offshore reserves of natural gas, but so far hasn't extracted anything.

Ramirez, who is also the country's oil minister, said the rig fully sank at 2:20 a.m. local time. He said the first sign of trouble was at around 11:00 p.m. local time Wednesday night, and said the rig began taking on water shortly after midnight. Nearly 100 workers aboard the rig were safely evacuated, Wall Street Journal informs.

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