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COLLEGE STATION – Petrobras America, Inc., part of the Brazilian state-run energy giant Petrobras (Petroleo Brasileiro), has called on TEEX for its expertise and assistance in reviewing and exercising the company’s emergency operations plan.

From its headquarters in Houston, the American subsidiary of the Brazilian oil company is overseeing the first deployment of a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel in the Gulf of Mexico in the Walker Ridge area about 160 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Walker Ridge FPSO will be the first-ever in the Gulf, but Petrobras has successfully deployed them in offshore operations in Brazil.

In planning for the deployment, the company approached TEEX several months ago about reviewing its emergency operations plan. “We’ve been working with them since October 2009,” said Keith Stephens, Training Director with TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC). “Following our review of their plan and recommendations made in January, the company asked TEEX to conduct a series of exercises, including the Walker Ridge group.”

NERRTC conducted a tabletop exercise at the Petrobras America facility in Houston, which involved a half-day facilitated discussion followed by two “injects” of possible emergency scenarios, Stephens said. This was followed three weeks later with a functional exercise with the Petrobras Walker Ridge Departmental Emergency Operations Center (EOC), he added.

The company has now asked TEEX to work with some of the other departments as well as provide emergency operations support at the corporate level, Stephens added. “We received good reviews (from the Walker Ridge group), and the company requested a hurricane exercise with all departments, which will roll into the corporate level. In October, they sent a group of managers to the Emergency Operations Training Center for a hurricane exercise in our emergency management simulation center.”

“This is the most complete and complex drill that Petrobras America has ever made,” said Petrobras America President Jose Orlando Azevedo. “It was a fantastic opportunity to verify and solve our gaps.”

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Kathy Fraser

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