Fire at sea: Pemex registers gas leak in underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico

04/07/2021

The fire has invaded the sea waters of the State of Campeche, in the Gulf of Mexico, for hours. A fire broke out early Friday morning due to a gas leak in a Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) pipeline, some 150 meters from the KU-C satellite platform of Pemex's Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) oil complex. 

Fire at sea: Pemex registers gas leak in underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. Image: Agencies
Fire at sea: Pemex registers gas leak in underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. Image: Agencies

The state-owned oil company reported this afternoon that the flames have been controlled and that there are no reports of any injuries or damage to the extraction of crude oil.

The fire was reported at 05:15 (local time) this Friday in a 12-inch underwater line, located a few meters from the KU-C platform, which is uninhabited, in the Sonda de Campeche. According to the state-owned company, the fire was extinguished after a little more than five hours of work in the area, so the platform's operation was reestablished. 

"The incident was immediately attended to when safety protocols were activated and with the accompaniment of nearby firefighting vessels such as Isla Santa Cruz, Bahía de Campeche, and Bourbon Alienor," Pemex informed in a statement. At a later event, the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said that an investigation will be carried out to determine the causes of the incident.

Three ships have supported suffocating the flames, thus avoiding any direct risk to the Ku Sierra platform. The company has announced that expert divers will descend to repair and close valves located at a depth of 78 meters. The Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex provides more than 40% of Pemex's 1.68 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Last April, the oil company also suffered a fire at the Minatitlán refinery in the state of Veracruz, leaving seven people injured. Reports on the incident indicated that the flames were caused by a leak in the loading pump of the so-called reformer plant. Mexico's third-largest refinery stopped operating for several weeks as a result of the fire.

In the midst of the confrontation between López Obrador and the private initiative and the Judiciary for his energy policy, Pemex is going through one of its most critical operational moments. Contrary to the first estimates of the Federal Government which placed crude oil production at 2.4 million barrels per day. Last March President López Obrador declared that during his administration there will be a "moderate production", which means that it will not exceed two million barrels per day during his administration. 

After the operational debacle that in the last part of 2020 placed Pemex with a daily production of 1.6 million barrels -the lowest in 40 years- the oil company has shown a slight improvement, at the beginning of this year with a production of almost 1.7 million barrels per day.

By Mexicanist