After a terrifying scene of massive flames erupting directly from roiling waters on Friday, an oil pipeline fire
in the Gulf of Mexico
was reportedly brought under control and extinguished.
According to Reuters, the fire broke out west of the Yucatan Peninsula at an underwater pipeline connecting to a platform operated by Mexico's state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex
) at its flagship Ku Maloob Zaap oil development in the southern gulf.
According to Reuters, the national company blamed the fire, which looked like molten lava on the water, on a gas
leak in the 12-inch-diameter pipeline, which was apparently caused by an electrical storm.
An electrical storm and heavy rains affected the turbomachinery at Ku Maloob Zaap's active production facilities, according to an incident report shared by one of Reuters' sources.
At the time of the incident, the operation was producing 726,000 barrels of crude per day.
I know it sounds controversial, but perhaps extracting fossil fuels
from the seafloor (or anywhere) is a bad idea pic.twitter.com/J4ur5MNyt1 — Brian Kahn (@blkahn) July 2, 2021
Reuters reported that Pemex's crew used nitrogen to finally control the fire from the pipeline, in an eerie scene in which ships poured fountains of water onto the flaming gulf.
The fire broke out at 5:15 a.m. local time, about 150 yards from an oil platform, and operations were restored to "normal" at 10:45 after the fire was extinguished, according to Bloomberg, citing a company statement.
The @televertv video referenced in the Pemex platform fire article: pic.twitter.com/EacXXLnQH6 — Rigzone (@Rigzone) July 2, 2021
The early-morning fire caused no injuries or significant disruption to production.
The full extent of any environmental damage was unknown. Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico's oil safety regulator ASEA, insisted on Twitter that the incident "did not generate any spill," but failed to explain what was burning on the water, according to Reuters.
Accidents have occurred in the past at Pemex.
Ku Maloob Zaap is Pemex's largest crude oil producer, accounting for more than 40% of the company's total daily crude output of 1.7 million barrels.
Bloomberg reported that production at Ku Maloob Zaap has been declining as fields mature and Pemex lacks the resources to invest in new extraction technologies.
Pemex's output has been declining year after year for more than a decade, and the company has the highest debt of any major oil company, at nearly $114 billion, according to Bloomberg.