MOSCOW (MRC) -- Three separate fires at Petroleos Mexicanos facilities on Thursday killed one worker, left at least eight people injured and several others missing, putting the Mexican state oil company’s safety record under scrutiny ahead of its earnings call on Monday, said Bloomberg.
Pemex said at least five people were missing and three were hospitalized after a fire broke out at a storage facility in Ixhuatlan, Veracruz. One of those workers died, Milenio reported in a video citing workers of the company.
Pemex also reported another blaze at the combined Maya unit of its 285,000-barrel-a-day Minatitlan refinery in Veracruz injured five workers. The same day, Pemex issued a community alert noting there was a fire at one of its units in the Deer Park refinery in Texas.
The fire at the Minatitlan refinery was controlled quickly, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a press conference Friday morning, while the fire at the Ixhuatlan storage facility is yet to be extinguished. “In the case of Ixhuatlan, it will take more time because it occurred at an oil deposit,” he said. The blast at Ixhuatlan sent huge clouds of smoke into the sky, pictures and videos on Twitter show.
While Pemex has said operations at its Minatitlan and Deer Park refineries are back to normal, the series of incidents has put Pemex’s environment, social and governance record under a spotlight during an already rocky start to the year for the company.
Pemex is under pressure to improve its oil production after it reported another year of declines and to boost refinery output to meet a nationalist goal of making Mexico self-sufficient in energy generation. The company has the most debt of any oil major, at USD105 billion by the end of September, and is searching for funds to repay about $8 billion in debt due this year.
Pemex’s safety issues have attracted international attention. In 2021, a huge gas explosion near its offshore oil platform — dubbed the “eye of fire”— sparked criticism from famed environmental activist Greta Thunberg and US Senator Bernie Sanders. Another offshore platform accident that year resulted in five deaths and Pemex was forced to cut output by a quarter.
We remind, Pemex's newest refinery, which is still under construction in Mexico's southeast, will begin to process crude oil in July 2023. The Olmeca refinery, the cornerstone of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's plan to make the country self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel, was originally slated to come on line early last year.
Meanwhile, the budget for the construction and other infrastructure needed to connect the refinery has more than doubled from an initial USD8 billion.