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Drill, Brazil, drill

Is Brazil the next elite oil-producing nation? Or the next offshore oil disaster?

Petrobras insists it is using the very latest in safety technology, including sea floor blowout preventers several generations more advanced than the faulty piece of equipment that contributed to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“Petrobras maintains the highest technical standards with regard to equipment and the training of its personnel,” the company said in an emailed statement. “All offshore drilling units working for Petrobras are equipped with detection systems that can provide immediate and automatic closure of the well in the event of an emergency.”

But critics of the oil industry are skeptical. The pre-salt wells will be deeper and more difficult to drill than the disastrous gusher in the Gulf of Mexico and will therefore pose a greater risk for
similar spills, said David Hughes, a Canadian geoscientist with the Post Carbon Institute.

“Technologically the well in the Gulf was easy compared to the pre-salt,” Huges said. “I’m not saying they can’t engineer around it maybe 99 times out of a hundred, but there’s always that one chance out of a hundred. Mother nature’s unknowable down to the last detail, unfortunately.”