Update 1: Ex-Petrobras director arrested. Vantage Drilling denies wrongdoing

(Updated with Ensco statement, July 7, 2015)

Brazilian police have arrested a former Petrobras official, Jorge Zelada, who allegedly received bribes related to drilling rig contracts.

According to Reuters, which cited Prosecutor Carlos Fernando dos Santos Lima, Zelada, who was a director of the Petrobras international branch between 2008 and 2012, might have taken bribes on a drilling contract for the Vantage Drilling-owned Titanium Explorer drillship. Furthermore, Zelada has also been accused of taking bribes for another rig, operated by Pride International, a company bought by Ensco in 2011.

In a statement issued Thursday, Vantage Drilling dismissed the allegations.

“Several hundred contracts were signed by this former Director, which in Vantage’s case, was after the parent board of Petrobras had approved the contract,” said Paul Bragg, Chairman and CEO of Vantage.

Vantage is fully performing under the contract and found no evidence that would substantiate any allegation of improper activity by Vantage in connection with the award of the contract, the company’s statement reads.

Furthermore, Bragg said: “Vantage has always been committed to conducting itself in accordance with the highest standards of business ethics. We do not believe that any inappropriate act was committed by any personnel associated with Vantage. Although we are disappointed that recent news reports have suggested that a former Petrobras International Director was arrested on the suspicion of some form of wrongdoing associated with Vantage, as well as with other companies contracted to Petrobras, we are confident that any suggestion is without merit as it relates to Vantage.”

Vantage Drilling is a Cayman Islands exempted company, with a fleet of seven drilling rigs. It provides offshore drilling services to oil and natural gas companies.

Ensco, the drilling contractor who bought Pride International, sent the following statement to Offshore Energy Today: “Ensco proactively conducts compliance reviews in Brazil on a regular basis, as part of its robust compliance program. In these reviews, we have found no evidence of wrongdoing by Ensco’s employees or other representatives. We recently shared information from these compliance reviews with Petrobras to assist with their internal audits.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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