MEXICO CITY — A fire on the ocean surface west of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula early on Friday has been extinguished, according to Mexico’s state-owned Pemex petrol company, blaming a gas leak from an underwater pipeline for sparking the blaze captured in videos that went viral.
Bright orange flames jumping out of water resembling molten lava was dubbed an “eye of fire” on social media due to the blaze’s circular shape, as it raged a short distance from a Pemex oil platform.
In a statement, Pemex said the fire, blamed on a gas leak from an underwater pipeline, happened at 5:15 a.m. local time off the coast of Campeche.
The fire, which was close to an oil platform, was put out by 10:45 a.m. local time, and no injuries or evacuations of the facility have been reported.
The fire took more than five hours to fully put out, according to Pemex.
The fire began in an underwater pipeline that connects to a platform at Pemex’s flagship Ku Maloob Zaap oil development — Pemex’s biggest crude oil producer, accounting for more than 40 per cent of its daily output of nearly 1.7m barrels.
Ku Maloob Zaap is located just up from the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico.
Pemex said no injuries were reported, and production from the project was not affected after the gas leak ignited around 5:15 a.m. local time. It was completely extinguished by 10:30 a.m.
The company added it would investigate the cause of the fire.
Pemex, which has a long record of major industrial accidents at its facilities, added it also shut the valves of the 12-inch-diameter pipeline.
Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA, wrote on Twitter that the incident “did not generate any spill.” He did not explain what was burning on the water’s surface.
“The turbomachinery of Ku Maloob Zaap’s active production facilities were affected by an electrical storm and heavy rains,” according to a Pemex incident report shared by one of Reuters’ sources.
Company workers used nitrogen to control the fire, the report added.
Details from the incident report were not mentioned in Pemex’s brief press statement and the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.