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‘Eye of Fire’ that Erupted in Gulf of Mexico is Under Control, says Mexico-owned Oil Company

Gulf of Mexico ‘eye of fire’ caused by electrical discharges, leaking gas and heavy rain, oil company says

The spectacular “eye of fire” in the Gulf of Mexico was a caused by a combination of electrical discharges, heavy rain and gas that had reached the surface after leaking from an underwater pipe, Mexico’s state-run oil monopoly Pemex says.

In a statement, the company said an electrical storm and heavy rain was reported in the area on the day of the fire. That caused the pneumatic pump gas turbo compression equipment necessary for the well production to go out of operation.

At the same time, a leak was detected in the 30cm pneumatic pumping pipeline that fed the wells of the Ku-C drilling platform, the statement said.

“The gas outside the pipe migrated from the seabed to the surface and due to the electrical discharges and heavy rains, the fire broke out on the surface of the sea.”

The fire was extinguished about five hours later by closing an underwater valve and injecting nitrogen into the gas pipeline.

No oil spilled, and environmental damage was avoided, Pemex said. An analysis was underway to identify the root cause of the gas leak in the pipeline.

Pemex said the fire started at 5.15am Friday (local time) and was over by 10.45am – 5 and a half hours later. No injuries were reported.


The leaking pipeline was in Pemex’s most important oil development, Ku Maloob Zaap.

Christopher Reddy, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and an expert in oil spill science, told Wired nitrogen gas would have choked off oxygen, preventing natural gas from burning.

Full story by Michael Daly at Stuff

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