Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) has said the cause of the ‘eye of fire’ that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on July 2 was the combination of a thunderstorm and a leak in a gas pipeline. The oil company said there was no oil spill and that immediate action to control the fire on the surface helped prevent any environmental damage.
Images of the fire, which occurred on the ocean surface west of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, were shared around the world on social media and drew widespread criticism from environmentalists. No one was injured in the incident and the fire was finally extinguished after five hours.
On July 5, PEMEX said in a statement on its website that a thunderstorm forced the company to shut down pumping equipment on the nearby Offshore Ku-C platform. At the same time, a leak in a 12″ submarine pipeline caused the accumulation of natural gas on the ocean floor, which was likely ignited by lightning as it rose to the surface.
After five hours, the fire was completely extinguished by closing the underwater valve and injecting nitrogen into the pipeline, PEMEX said. He added that there was no oil spill, no environmental damage.
PEMEX has now initiated a repair program for the affected pneumatic pumping line and is conducting an analysis to identify the root cause of the gas leak in the pipeline.