Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) CEO Octavio Romero Oropeza said five people died and two people remained missing as of Monday afternoon following a fire on the E-Ku-A2 platform in the Gulf of Mexico.


The incident occurred Sunday afternoon in the Ku, Maloob and Zaap (KMZ) megafield. Oropeza said an investigation was underway to determine its cause. He also planned to go to the site. The fire, he noted, was not because of “a lack of maintenance.”

The fatal incident was impacting 421,000 b/d of oil production with 125 wells shut in.

“The oil industry is a risky business,” Oropeza said in a press briefing. “We have had accidents, which in numbers are less than in previous years.”  The press conference was the first organized by Pemex at headquarters in more than two years.

Mexican oil workers union Petroleros de la República Mexicana in a statement blamed “poor management” for “making the industry dangerous, which is not acceptable.”

Pemex said the fire was brought under control about an hour and a half after it started on Sunday afternoon. Four people who died were contractors who worked for Mexican oil services firm Cotemar, Oropeza said. Six people remained injured, one in serious condition.

The fire was the second major accident to afflict Pemex offshore operations in the KMZ field in as many months. In early July, images of an eye-shaped fire went viral on social media after electrical storms and a natural gas leak from a pipeline used to stimulate oil production ignited an undersea blaze. Unlike Sunday’s blaze, no one was killed or seriously injured.

The three large KMZ offshore fields together are considered Mexico’s main oil area. In June, total production at KMZ was 617,311 b/d, or 37% of the country’s total production, according to data from upstream regulator Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH).

The fields also produce 694 MMcf/d of associated natural gas, or about 18% of Mexico’s total gas output.

Pemex has suffered tragedies on multiple fronts during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration. 

As of Aug. 17 the company had reported 3,302 Covid-19 deaths among employees, retirees, family members and external contractors. Of that total, 587 people were actively employed at the time of diagnosis.

In 2019, a leak and subsequent explosion at a Pemex gasoline pipeline in Hidalgo state also left 137 dead. 

Pemex also is facing growing scrutiny for its poor performance on environmental, social and governance metrics, namely natural gas flaring and production of high-sulfur fuel oil.

Andrew Baker contributed reporting.