MOSCOW (MRC) -- Twenty-four people died after a leak caused a deadly petrochemical plant blast, and the death toll could still rise, Mexican oil giant Pemex said on Thursday, the latest in a series of fatal accidents to batter the company, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.
Pemex CEO Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, who traveled to the site of Wednesday's blast near the port of Coatzacoalcos, one of Pemex's top oil export hubs, told local television it was unclear what caused the accident.
The massive explosion at the facility's chlorinate 3 plant in the Gulf state of Veracruz also injured 136 people, 13 of them seriously. Another 18 people were unaccounted for, and one badly damaged part of the plant had yet to be scoured.
"We know there was a leak, what we don't know is why, but everything points to an accident," Gonzalez Anaya said.
He shared an updated death toll at a press conference late on Thursday, adding that remediation of the site could take up to a year. He denied the blast was tied to the economic problems of Pemex, which is trying to stem sliding output and slash costs as it creaks under the pressure of low crude prices.
Calling it a "tragic accident", President Enrique Pena Nieto headed to the region late Thursday to tour the facility with local officials and speak with victims and their families.
As MRC reported earlier, the blast occurred at a vinyl petrochemical plant that is a joint venture between Pemex's petrochemical unit and majority owner Mexican plastic pipe maker Mexichem. Pemex operates the larger petrochemical complex where the plant was located, known as Pajaritos.
The plant produces some 900 tpd of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), also known as chloroethene, an industrial chemical used to produce plastic piping. The joint venture had forecast sales of USD260 million this year.
Pemex, Mexican Petroleum, is a Mexican state-owned petroleum company. Pemex has a total asset worth of USD415.75 billion, and is the world's second largest non-publicly listed company by total market value, and Latin America's second largest enterprise by annual revenue as of 2009. Company produces such polymers, as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene.