Pemex Says Offshore Oil Well Fire Extinguished

MEXICO CITY Nov 15, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

State oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos announced Wednesday it has extinguished a fire at an offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and will resume work on plugging an oil and natural gas leak at the site.

On Oct. 23, an oil rig crashed into an offshore platform amid rough seas, causing 21 deaths and rupturing the Kab-101 oil well. The well has been leaking around 400 barrels a day of oil ever since, as well as toxic gases.

The well fire was started Tuesday afternoon by a spark that occurred when staff were trying to plug the well with mud and cement. Pemex has been collecting the spilled oil using boats and then adding chemicals to compact the oil.

Environmental groups have been criticizing Pemex for using chemicals to clean up the spill, which they say sinks the oil to the ocean floor. They also say Pemex blames oil leaks on chapopoteras, which are natural oil leaks.

The company said last week, before the fire, that the spill had not caused environmental damage, and that oil reaching the coast in the area of the Campeche Sound is from the natural oil leaks, not from the leaking well.

A spokesman from Mexico's Profepa environmental authority said the Mexican Autonomous University, or UNAM, is studying oil samples to determine if oil from the spill has reached the coast.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.