Pemex denied that there have been “large emissions of methane” from facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, assuring that extraordinary events occurred with concentrations much lower than those reported in a scientific study.
In a research paper published by Environmental Science & Technology Letters in June, scientists calculated from satellite data that Pemex emitted about 40,000 tons of methane from the Ku-Maloob-Zaap asset over 17 days in December last year.
Their work is part of a larger study funded by the European Space Agency, in which scientists are working to detect and quantify human emissions from space.
The alleged methane leak has sparked renewed scrutiny on Pemex, the world’s most indebted oil company and which is under increasing pressure over its environmental record.
The oil company said in a statement released Wednesday night that a study carried out by a third party authorized by the National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection of the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) revealed that there had been no large emissions of methane.
“The gas emissions into the atmosphere at the Zaap-C Process Center that occurred in an extraordinary manner, had a concentration of 22% methane gas, and the rest is made up of nitrogen and other gases,” Pemex reported.
He added that the images captured by the satellites referred to in the research article were considered incorrectly.
“The company SOLAL-GENERMASA (contracted by ASEA) determined in its study with the real conditions of the operation of the Zaap-C Process Center, that the methane emission was 2,224 tons, which corresponds to 5% of those published by the article noted,” the statement added.
Pemex said that the emissions were an “extraordinary event” due to the weather conditions at the time – which it did not specify in its statement – which turned off the burner for a few hours.
Contacted by Reuters, the scientists behind the study rejected Pemex’s statement, saying they would explain their findings in more detail in due course. “At the moment, we can say that Pemex’s claims do not make sense for a number of reasons, and it should not be a problem to show that,” they said in a written response sent to Reuters.