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‘Eye of fire’ in Mexican waters snuffed out, says national oil company

MEXICO CITY, July 2 (Reuters) – A fire on the ocean surface west of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula early on Friday has been extinguished, state oil company Pemex said, blaming a gas leak from an underwater pipeline for sparking the blaze captured in videos that went viral.

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

The fire took more than five hours to fully put out, according to Pemex.

The fire began in an underwater pipeline that connects to a platform at Pemex’s flagship Ku Maloob Zaap oil development, the company’s most important, four sources told Reuters earlier.

Ku Maloob Zaap is located just up from the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex said no injuries were reported, and production from the project was not affected after the gas leak ignited around 5:15 a.m. local time. It was completely extinguished by 10:30 a.m.

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

Pemex, which has a long record of major industrial accidents at its facilities, added it also shut 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 generate any spill.” He did not explain what was burning on the water’s surface.

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

“The turbomachinery of Ku Maloob Zaap’s active production facilities were affected by an electrical storm and heavy rains,” according to a Pemex incident report shared by one of Reuters’ sources.

Company workers used nitrogen to control the fire, the report added.

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.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Marianna Parraga; Additional reporting by David Alire Garcia; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Daina Beth Solomon, Philippa Fletcher and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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2021-07-02 18:40:00

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