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Saipem has dropped into the sea and been unable to recover a steel pipe during installation work at the Petrobras Roncador field offshore Brazil.

This is another setback to efforts by Petrobras to boost output from the Campos basin project.

The Italian contractor lost its grip on the 2.3km steel pipe after the machinery being used to position the pipe on the floating oil platform failed during operations on 16 March.

The $2 million pipe plummeted to the  bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, and settled on the seafloor at a depth of about 5,900 feet.

Saipem won the contract for engineering, procurement, transportation and offshore installation of 25km of flowlines, in addition to 16 steel catenary risers for subsea wellheads to the recently installed P-55 platform.

Petrobras has continued to struggle as even with its $221 billion five-year investment plan to increase output with offshore development.

“The series of management and engineering problems the company faces is flabbergasting,” said Cleveland Jones, a professor and researcher with Brazil’s National Petroleum and Gas Institute at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

According to sources, it will take six months to manufacture a replacement pipe.