RIO DE JANEIRO — Explosions and fire ravaged the world's largest offshore oil rig Thursday, killing at least one worker, weakening the nation's currency and shaking its biggest company.
Three blasts shortly after midnight rocked the Brazilian rig, which weighs about 32,000 tons and stands 40 stories high. The platform is 75 miles off Brazil's southeastern Atlantic coast in the Campos Basin, northeast of Rio de Janeiro. It accounted for more than three-quarters of the 1.3 million barrels of oil produced by Brazil daily.
One worker died in the fire and another was hospitalized with severe burns over most of his body, said Petrobras, the state oil company. Ten others were missing.
As 12 ships battled the blaze, others ferried 151 of the 175 people aboard the rig to another platform seven miles away, Petrobras said.
The explosions damaged a pillar that supports the huge rig, and Petrobras said there was a risk the platform could sink. By late Thursday, the rig was listing at a 30-degree angle, and the company said it would wait for the platform to stabilize before bringing in ships to try to right it.
Petrobras Chief Executive Henri Reichstul said there was no environmental damage from the accident.
"There was no spill or anything," he said. "All the oil and gas wells were closed."
However, if the platform sinks, it could leak as much as 53,000 cubic feet of oil and diesel fuel into the sea, Petrobras said. The company said five ships with floating anti-oil barriers were surrounding the rig to soak up any spillage.
The disaster sent Petrobras shares plummeting 6.8% on the Sao Paulo stock exchange. Late Thursday, the central bank sold millions of dollars from its cash reserves to prop up the real after the currency fell below 2.10 to the dollar.
The disaster was also another blow for Petrobras, which has come under fire for allegedly lax safety standards.