State-owned Pemex failed to report to the energy and environment regulator a December release of methane from a key offshore oil field , according to the state oil company’s response to an access to information request, which confirms a Reuters report that the The agency had no record of the incident.
Under Mexican law, companies must report incidents when they pose a risk to the safety of workers, the environment, oil and gas production, or related infrastructure.
Experts consulted by Reuters said the leak clearly met these criteria. Pemex did not respond to a request for comment on why it did not report the incident.
Reuters requested all records of the incidents that Pemex’s exploration and production arm reported to the environmental regulator, the Environment, Energy and Security Agency (ASEA), and to its predecessor – at the Ku Maloob Zaap oilfield complex during the last decade.
The methane emission on the Zaap-C platform, which first appeared on December 8, was discovered by researchers, including the Polytechnic University of Valencia, and published by the European Space Agency. Pemex confirmed the existence of an emission, but refuted the volume calculated by the scientists.
Invisible and odourless, methane is considered a much more powerful short-term global warming factor than carbon dioxide because it traps more heat in the atmosphere.
Mexico, along with a hundred other countries, has committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
The information received from Pemex through the access to information request also showed that the company did not report another methane emission of a similar size in August , detected by the same scientists.
It also failed to inform ASEA of a huge ocean surface fire in July 2021 caused by a gas leak from a ruptured underwater pipeline. Dubbed “the eye of fire” by local media, images of the huge circular flame went viral as it burned for five hours.
Experts were concerned about the lack of reporting and transparency around the incidents, all of which have occurred in different parts of the Ku Maloob Zaap gas infrastructure in the last two years.
As part of its response, Pemex released several internal documents showing that it did report two other incidents to the regulator in January 2020 and August 2021, both at gas processing centers adjacent to the complex.