‘Eye of fire’ in Gulf of Mexico extinguished, oil company says

By Adrianna Barrera and Marianna Parraga | Reuters

MEXICO CITY – A fire on the ocean surface west of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula was put out early Friday, state oil company Pemex said, blaming a gas leak from an underwater pipeline for fueling the blaze, captured in videos that went viral.

Bright orange flames leaping out of water resembling molten lava were dubbed an “eye of fire” on social media because of the fire’s circular shape, as it raged a short distance from a Pemex oil platform.

WATCH: Flames shoot out of Gulf of Mexico after gas leak that ignites pipeline pic.twitter.com/4LNOAY8w7I

— BNO News (@BNONews) July 2, 2021

According to Pemex, it took more than five hours before the fire was completely extinguished.

The fire started in an underwater pipeline connected to a platform at Pemex’ flagship Ku Maloob Zaap, the company’s main oil development, four sources previously told Reuters.

Ku Maloob Zaap is located just above the southern edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex said there were no injuries and production of the project was not affected after the gas leak ignited around 5.15 am local time. It was completely extinguished by 10:30 am

The company added it would investigate the cause of the fire.

Pemex, which has a long track record of major industrial accidents at its plants, added that it also closed the valves of the 12-inch diameter pipeline.

Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA, wrote on Twitter that the incident “did not cause any leakage.” He did not explain what was burning on the surface of the water.

Ku Maloob Zaap is Pemex’s largest producer of crude oil, accounting for more than 40% of its nearly 1.7 million barrels of daily production.

“Turbo machines at Ku Maloob Zaap’s active production facilities were hit by an electrical storm and heavy rainfall,” according to a Pemex incident report shared by one of Reuters’ sources.

Company employees used nitrogen to bring the fire under control, the report said.

Details from the incident report were not mentioned in Pemex’s brief press statement and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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