Pemex Oil Platform Fire Kills 4 in Gulf of Mexico, 302 Evacuated

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

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.

At 8pm (02:00 GMT) on Wednesday, Pemex said in a message on its Twitter account that the fire had been put out. Eight firefighting boats had been 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.

Videos posted on Twitter showed the offshore platform engulfed in flames, lighting up the night sky, as rescue workers looked on from nearby ships.

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, a company spokesman said.

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, the Pemex spokesman said. Earlier in the day, the spokesman had said the platform produced oil.

In total, the Abkatun Pol Chuc complex produces around 300,000 bpd. Output at the rest of the site was not affected. Mexico is the world’s No. 10 crude producer at just under 2.3 million bpd, down about a third from a peak of 3.4 million bpd in 2004.

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.

Cotemar is based in Ciudad del Carmen and provides offshore services to Pemex, according to its website.


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