A fire broke out in the Gulf of Mexico early on Friday sending bright orange flames onto the water after a gas leak in an undersea pipeline of state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos or Pemex, reports have said. The flames resembled molten lava and were dubbed “eye of fire” on several social media platforms. Several Mexican journalists and publications shared videos on Twitter of the fire raging in the middle of the ocean as boats sprayed streams of water on it and the clips quickly racked up millions of views.
A Reuters report noted that Pemex said it took more than five hours to completely extinguish the fire. A video of the incident showed the blaze having a circular shape, as it emerged a few distances from a Pemex oil platform.
Pemex officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the fire began in the underwater pipeline which connects to a platform at the firm’s flagship ‘Ku Maloob Zaap’ oil development. This flagship is situated just up from the Gulf of Mexico’s southern rim.
Pemex said no injuries were reported in the incident and that oil production from its flagship project remained unhindered following the gas leak that occurred around 5:15am local time. The flames were fully put out by 10:30am local time, Reuters reported. The company said it would probe the cause of the fire, the Reuters report added. Pemex further highlighted it has also shut the 12-inch-diameter pipeline’s valves.
The company reportedly said that it used boats to pump water over the flames, although its workers said that nitrogen was also used, Reuters added, citing an incident report.
This is not the first time that such an incident has happened at Pemex, which has a long record of industrial accidents at its facilities, Reuters reported.
The head of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA, Angel Carrizales, wrote on Twitter that the fire incident on the Gulf of Mexico “did not generate any spill.” However, he refrained from providing an explanation of what was burning on the water’s surface.
The flagship project ‘Ku Maloob Zaap’ is Pemex’s biggest crude oil producer, with over 40 per cent of the firm’s nearly 1.7 million barrels of daily output coming from it. With input from Rueters