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Boats spray water onto an offshore oil platform that caught fire at the Pemex's Cantarell Field, in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico July 7, 2023. Courtesy Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) @Pemex/Handout via REUTERS
Large Oil Spill Reported Near Site of Pemex Platform Blast in Gulf of Mexico
A large oil spill has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of a deadly explosion at a Petroleos Mexicanos natural gas platform, according to a report released by Greenpeace and other groups.
Scientist Guillermo Tamburini Beliveau detected the leak on July 4, days before the blast off the coast of Mexico’s Campeche, Greenpeace and others said in a press statement. The spill was about 400 square kilometers (154 square miles) earlier this month and may have grown to about two-thirds the size of Mexico City, Tamburini said in a presentation that includes satellite imagery of the leak.
The spill requires more investigation, Tamburini said in the presentation, “and could be considerably larger.” A Pemex representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pemex has come under scrutiny from environmentalists and analysts for its safety and environmental record after frequent accidents and explosions at its facilities. The company is shouldering $107.4 billion in debt, the most of any oil major, and is struggling under a liquidity crunch. Fires hit half of its refineries in the second half of May, while the company also reported a spate of accidents in a single day at three separate facilities in February.
The spill might not be connected to the blast earlier this month, but it’s much larger than a typical platform leak, said Itziar Irakulis-Loitxate, a lead researcher on a study from the Polytechnic University of Valencia that last year uncovered two large methane leaks from a Pemex offshore platform.
Since the spill started before the gas platform fire in early July, “I would tend to think that these are two unfortunate incidents that have coincided on similar dates but do not have to be related,” she said in an interview. “But it is true that this particular leak is, by far, much bigger and it is lasting much longer than normal, which is undoubtedly very worrying.”
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