Pemex Fire Triggered by Storm and Pipeline Gas Leak

The swirling, sea-surface fire near the Ku-C platform was extinguished after several hours.

Still of video shot over the Pemex Ku-C platform in the Bay of Campeche.
Credit: Tweet by Manuel Lopez San Martin/El Heraldo de Mexico.

Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, said a 2 July leak in the 12-in. pneumatic pumping pipeline that feeds the wells at the Ku-C platform resulted in gas escaping to the surface that was later ignited by lightning from a thunderstorm in the area. There was no oil spill, and immediate actions taken to control the fire on the surface prevented environmental damage, the operator said. The platform is part of the large Ku-Maloob-Zaap field cluster, which is among the company’s most profitable producing assets.

“As a result of these events, and after approximately 5 hours, the fire was extinguished in its entirety by closing the underwater valve and injecting nitrogen into the pipeline,” Pemex said in a statement.

Bad weather with heavy rain appears to have set off the chain of events that led to the fire, including the pneumatic pumping gas turbocharging equipment necessary to produce the wells being knocked out of operation.

Pemex has begun with the definitive repair program of the affected pneumatic pumping line and continues to investigate the incident in order to identify the root cause of the gas leak.

A video of the marine response to the blaze went viral across the internet and sparked criticism on social media from the likes of US Senator Bernie Sanders to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.