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Mexico’s Oil Giant Delays Platform Repairs Despite Methane Leaks

Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil firm, has been putting off urgent equipment repairs on a major producing platform in the Gulf of Mexico, despite being aware of the faulty components and despite methane leaks from the facility being detected by third parties, Reuters reported exclusively on Friday, citing engineers and internal company documents.

Pemex has struggled financially for years and has run up huge debts, while its safety and environment-protection record has been terrible in recent years.  

Last summer, a fire on an offshore platform operated by Pemex led to the shut-in of 700,000 barrels of oil. Two years earlier, during maintenance season, the company had a fire erupt in an offshore gas-processing plant in the Bay of Campeche. The fire killed five people and shut in some 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in production.

Now Pemex’s Zaap-C platform could be a disaster waiting to happen. The platform needs urgent repairs amid leaking methane in the atmosphere.

However, engineers have told Reuters that the Mexican state oil firm hasn’t undertaken repairs yet and the faulty equipment remains at the platform, more than six months after an internal report seen by Reuters assessed the need for repairs in June 2023. 

That’s despite the fact that data from the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) International Methane Emissions Observatory showed methane leaks at the end of last year.

The same platform, Zaap-C, was found to have leaked methane plumes in 2022 when a team of scientists used satellite data to detect methane plumes. This was the first time that individual methane plumes from offshore platforms were mapped from space, the European Space Agency said in 2022.

Meanwhile, Pemex said earlier this month that it plans to reduce its emissions and turn into a net-zero company by 2050, starting with a 30% reduction over the next six years.

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The target is part of a new sustainability report that Pemex released this week that “establishes the company’s commitment toward ethical and sustainable production, and reinforces Pemex’s role as an agent of change in the nation’s energy sector when it comes to climate action,” according to chief executive Octavio Romero, as quoted by Bloomberg.  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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