A huge explosion on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed four people on Wednesday, officials said. At least eight fire boats were dispatched to deal with the fire, which hit a platform owned by Mexican state-run oil company Pemex, according to media reports.
The company said one of the persons who died due to the fire on the Abkatun Permanente offshore center was a contractor for the Mexican oil services company Cotemar, according to Reuters.
Forty-five people were given medical treatment and 16 were hospitalized, two with serious injuries, Pemex said on its official Twitter account. About 300 workers were evacuated from the platform after the fire broke out. Pemex announced that the fire had been extinguished late Wednesday night.
Footage posted on Twitter by a Mexican news website showed a huge fireball rising from the platform, as rescue workers watched the blaze from nearby ships.
— El Universal (@El_Universal_Mx) April 2, 2015
The cause of the fire was unclear, but it broke out in the dehydration and pumping area of the platform, Pemex said, according to Reuters. The company said that the accident "did not cause an oil spill into the sea, given that there was only a seepage, which is being taken care of by specialized vessels," and suggested that the remaining oil in the pipelines was burning off, according to the New York Times.
The impact on production was likely to be minimal, because the platform was used for processing, and not production, and other nearby facilities could pick up the slack, Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya said, according to the Times.
The platform is part of the Abkatun Pol Chuc offshore complex, and is used to separate crude oil and gas to process around 40,000 barrels per day (bpd), but the platform had been damaged and work was suspended, a Pemex spokesman reportedly said.
In total, the Abkatun Pol Chuc complex produces around 300,000 bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and output at the rest of the site was unaffected.
Pemex facilities have seen other accidents in recent years. In 2013, a blast at Pemex’s Mexico City headquarters killed at least 37 people, Reuters reported. In 2007, 21 workers were killed in a crude oil spill and natural gas leak at the company's Kerrick Kab 121 platform, according to USA Today.