By LAURENCE ILIFF
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos
Mexicanos, or Pemex, said a pipeline carrying liquefied
petroleum gas was punctured by a privately operated backhoe
near the central city of Guadalajara, and that the resulting
fire was under control by midday Friday.
Pemex said in a series of messages on its
Twitter page that two people were injured in the fire that
erupted late Thursday - a highway worker and a firefighter. Gas
supplies to Guadalajara were affected, the company added, but
inventories will allow normal LPG deliveries to customers.
"The only distribution terminal affected is
Guadalajara's, but it has sufficient fuel inventories to
guarantee supplies to the region," Pemex said.
The company said that the fire was burning off
the remaining gas in the air, and that once the blaze is
completely extinguished, repairs would begin on the 14-inch
pipeline, which runs from the Cactus processing station in the
Gulf Coast state of Tabasco to Guadalajara.
Authorities closed an affected section of the
highway that runs from Mexico City to Guadalajara as a
precaution, and Pemex said it estimated the highway section
would be reopened on Saturday. Also, people living near the
affected part of the pipeline were evacuated.
LPG is used widely in Mexican households for
cooking and heating water, and costly imports are subsidized by
the government. Pemex imported about 77,000 bpd of the
fuel on average in the first eight months of this year. It
produced an average of 180,000 bpd of the fuel over the
same time period.
LPG is delivered in small tanks, or pumped into stationary
tanks outside homes. A few parts of the country, mostly in the
north, have installed natural-gas pipelines to provide domestic
In mid-September, a massive explosion at a
processing center near the northern border city of Reynosa
killed 30 workers and took about 800 million cubic feet of the
gas offline at a time when the oil monopoly was already
struggling to meet industries' demands for more of the fuel
given its low price.
Pemex said it would try to keep up with
natural-gas demand by increasing imports from the US to the
maximum level that pipelines in Mexico could handle, and
perhaps by importing more expensive liquefied natural
gas that arrives on ships and is re-gasified at specialized
While Pemex is a major exporter of crude oil,
it is a net importer of natural
gas and has been producing less of the fuel over the last
couple of years and importing more. In August, natural-gas
imports averaged a near-record 1.2 billion cubic feet/day
compared with about 700 million cubic feet/day in August
production in the first eight months of this year averaged
6.42 billion cubic feet/day, compared with 6.59 billion cubic
feet/day in the same period of 2011, according to Pemex
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