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A leak in a Tabasco Pemex oil pipeline causes disastrous fire

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Pemex is downplaying the seriousness of the accident, but environmental groups are demanding answers. Photo: Courtesy

A massive fire sparked by a leaking oil duct has created massive environmental damage in Huimanguillo, Tabasco. 

The fire and resulting explosion occurred when workers set their fields ablaze to help renew the soil in a practice known as slash and burn agriculture. 

The fields, which ran near the location of the oil pipeline, quickly ignited when they came into contact with an oil leak, which apparently had already been reported weeks prior.

It is unknown if the oil leak was the result of natural wear and tear, or of the common practice of theft known as “huachicoleo,” which is common in the region and has been deemed responsible for several other accidents. 

Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, says that the fire is now under control, but has not released information regarding the environmental damage caused by the blaze and subsequent explosion. 

Earlier: Feeling ripped-off at the Pemex pump? You are probably right

Accidents involving Pemex infrastructure are commonplace and increased by 9.5% in 2021, according to Oil & Gas Magazine.

In April 2015, an explosion at Pemex’s Abkatún A platform killed seven people and injured another 45. This was despite the fact that the company had previously been warned of a dangerous rise in gas pressure on the platform. 

Witnesses aboard the Ku-c platform operated by Pemex described the fire burning in the ocean as resembling “an eye of fire.”

Last summer, an explosion at the Ku-c Pemex oil platform is said to have been caused by a faulty duct that released and ignited highly combustible gas into the water. The extent of the environmental damage caused by the accident remains unknown.

Critics of  President Andrés Manuel López Obrador argue that he has not done enough to invest in renewable energy sources and places too great an emphasis on propping up Mexico’s state-owned energy giants.

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