Environmental Policy News

PEMEX Oil Platform Bursts in Flames

At least four people died after a fire broke out on an oil processing platform in the Gulf of Mexico early on Wednesday April 1st, leading to the evacuation of 302 workers, Mexican state-run oil company Pemex stated.

The fire, which burned throughout the day, erupted overnight on the Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche. Forty-five people were treated for injuries and 16 of them were hospitalized, two with serious injuries, Pemex said.

Eight firefighting boats were brought in to battle the flames, Pemex said, noting that one of the fatalities was from the state-run giant and another was a contractor for Mexican oil services firm Cotemar. Two others have yet to be identified. The fire broke out in the dehydration and pumping area of the platform, and it was not yet clear what caused it, Pemex said. There was no oil spill, it said.

Pemex Chief Executive Emilio Lozoya estimated the impact on production would be small because other processing sites nearby would pick up the slack. Part of the Abkatun Pol Chuc offshore complex, the damaged platform separates crude oil and gas from various wells to process around 40,000 barrels per day (bpd), work which has now been suspended, a Pemex spokesman said.

In total, the Abkatun Pol Chuc complex produces around 300,000 bpd. Output at the rest of the site was not affected.

Pemex has had a number of accidents in recent years and the latest one comes as Mexico seeks to lure private investors to revive its flagging oil industry. In 2013, at least 37 people were killed by a blast at Pemex’s Mexico City headquarters, and another 26 people died in a fire at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico in September 2012. Last year, Mexico finalized a reform to end Pemex’s 75-year-old oil and gas monopoly, but expectations of a boom in private investment have been tempered by the plunge in global crude prices.

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