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Workers Evacuate Following Gas Pipeline Explosion In Mexico

A gas pipeline run by Mexico's state-owned oil firm Pemex exploded in the Mexican state of Tabasco late on Tuesday, causing a fire and leading to the evacuation of all workers at the Paredón Hydrocarbon Separation Station.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage to properties located in the vicinity of the plant, local media report.  

According to Mexico's civil protection authorities, the cause of the explosion is unknown yet, and an investigation is underway.

Pemex said in a statement that an excavator accidentally hit a pipeline, causing an ethane gas leak on a 24-inch ethane pipeline running from Ciudad PEMEX to Cangrejera. The company said that Pemex is addressing the gas leak and is working to restore normality in the Huimanguillo area.

That's not the first fire at a Pemex pipeline in the state of Tabasco this year. In January, a fire sparked by a leaking oil pipe created environmental damage in Huimanguillo. Before that incident, farmers had set fields on fire to renew the soil, and when the fire came into contact with an oil leak, an explosion occurred. The oil leak had been reported weeks earlier. 

In another major explosion involving Pemex's assets, a fire broke out at a Pemex oil platform in the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico in August last year.

The fire, which occurred during maintenance, killed five workers and injured another six. The outage as a result of the fire reduced Pemex's production by some 444,000 bpd. The natural gas processed at the Ku-Maloob-Zaap center is used to boost oil production from offshore fields. Pemex, for its part, made a note of pointing out in its press release that the fire had not erupted because of insufficient investments in maintenance. The government has increased Pemex's maintenance budget, the company said, adding that the safety of its employees remained a top priority, over oil production.

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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