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
Pemex natural-gas 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 plants.
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 2011.
Pemex's natural-gas 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 data.
Dow Jones Newswires