Mexico Pemex attributes fatal headquarters blast to gas build-up

05 February 2013 22:56  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said on Tuesday that a build-up of gas led to the explosion on 31 January that killed 37 people and injured over 120 at the company’s main office complex in Mexico City.

The accident was the most deadly since 2006, when a methane explosion in the Pasta de Conchos coalmine in northern Mexico killed 65 workers.

“The preliminary results of the first surveys carried out by national and international experts have determined that the blast was caused by an accumulation of gas in the basement of the B2 building,” Pemex said in a statement.

Earlier, Attorney General Jesus Murillo said no explosive residue had been found at the site nor any physical evidence to indicate explosives were used.

Murillo said that experts believed that an electrical fault had caused a spark that ignited the leaking gas. He did not comment on whether the build-up of gas could have been intentional.

“We are investigating whether the gas came from a small building adjacent to the administrative complex, where natural gas is stored,” he said.

The facility was due to reopen on Wednesday, the company said, adding that those who normally work at the B2 building will be relocated to other offices.

Pemex reassured those returning to work that experts had carried out detailed inspections of the complex, ensuring there was no further risk to their safety.

“A series of tests were carried out in the basements of these buildings using state-of-the-art technology, ruling out the possibility of a presence of gas,” Pemex said.

Pemex’s Chief Financial Officer, Mario Beauregard, confirmed in a conference call that there had been no disruption to company operations.

The blast would not have any financial or economic impact on the company, and would not affect Pemex's 2013 investment programme, he said.

Furthermore, the accident would not prevent Mexico’s congress from debating the energy bill in the coming weeks.

“The explosion and the energy bill are totally unrelated events,” Beauregard said.

By: Simon West

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