A Petróleos Mexicanos rig. Photo: Google

By KELIN DILLON

Environmentalists are lashing out against Mexico’s oil-friendly practices after the appearance of a massive fireball in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, July 2, which was caused by a leak in one of state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos’ (Pemex) pipelines through the area.

The massive fire “demonstrates the serious risks that the fossil fuel model in Mexico implies, both for the environment and for the safety of people,” said Greenpeace Mexico.

Pemex claimed that routine drilling caused the gas pipeline to rupture, igniting the fire, which then took a further five hours to put out. The extent of damage caused by the leak and subsequent flames are unknown as of now.

Mexico has widely promoted the use of oil under the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who has called oil “the best business in the world” and expanded Pemex’s powers throughout the first three years of his term. His support for the oil industry shows no signs of slowing down, with the country’s recent acquisition of Texas’ Deer Park refinery and the continued construction of the controversial Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco clearly demonstrating AMLO’s commitment to the product.

Meanwhile, a report showing the state of disrepair of Pemex’s offshore facilities where the incident occurred has become public, with some calling the site “a ticking time bomb.”

Corrosive lines, leaks, inoperable rescue boats and failing fire sprinkler networks have all been reported, as well as such poor air conditioning inside the facilities that means that workers are forced to sleep outside on the platforms. Likewise, emergency exits and boats, as well as protective equipment, are purportedly beyond expiration date, leaving workers vulnerable if another disaster like Friday’s occurs again.

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