Four oil rig workers were killed and 16 injured when a fire broke out on an oil production platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico early on April 1, Mexico’s state-run petro-giant Pemex said. Local emergency services said as many as 45 people were injured in the blaze. The company said one of the dead was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company Cotemar.
An explosion started a fire in the dewatering and pumping area of the Abkatun A-Permanent platform, Pemex said, with at least 300 workers evacuated. It was not yet clear what had caused the incident, the company said.
Pemex said it had eight firefighting boats battling the flames and that although there was no oil in the water, all of the company’s oil response teams have been dispatched as a precaution.
The Abkatun standing platform is used to separate gas from crude oil and is not a drilling rig, so the company says there is no open well or danger of a major oil leak.
The Abkatun-Pol-Chuc offshore oilfields, where the dewatering and pumping platform is located, produced under 300,000 barrels per day in 2013, a decrease of more than half from a peak in the mid-1990s of 700,000 barrels, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
This explosion brings the total number of those killed in fires at Pemex facilities to 64 in less than three years. In 2013, at least 37 people were killed by a gas explosion at the Pemex headquarters in Mexico City. Another 26 were killed at a gas plant in 2012.
In 2007, at the Kerrick Kab 121 platform further up the coast, 21 workers were killed in a spill of crude oil and a natural gas leak, Diario de Yucatan reports. The accident was blamed on intense waves that hit the tower and caused the valve assembly to explode.
The worst spill from a platform in Mexico occurred in 1970 when a drilling rig, the Ixtoc 1, exploded, spilling 140 million gallons, the newspaper reports. It took nine months from PEMEX and several U.S. to bring the the spill under control and clean up the disaster.