From: Associated Press
Published January 18, 2005 12:00 AM

Mexican Authorities Order Gas Well Closed after Explosion, Spill

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's environmental protection agency ordered the closure of a gas well operated by the state-owned oil company Pemex on Monday, after it found the company had not gotten environmental impact and safety approval for the well, which exploded Jan. 11.


The closure of the Guince 1 well in Tlacuilolapan, in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, comes one day after the agency closed a 16-inch pipeline which spilled oil on Dec. 31 at Cunduacan in the neighboring state of Tabasco.


"The company lacked authorization regarding environmental impact and the study of safety risks," the agency said in a press statement about the well closure.


The agency also noted safety violations and pollution due to the release of oil residues at the exploratory well, which was installed in November. Authorities will not allow the facility to reopen until it cleans up the pollution and files the appropriate documents.


No injuries were reported in the Jan. 11 blast, which as apparently caused by the release of natural gas.


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The pipeline closed Sunday is a 52-kilometer (32-mile) line that supplied crude oil for export to the Dos Bocas terminal, with a capacity to carry 120,000 barrels a day, according to the environmental prosecutor's office.


A lack of maintenance and the excessive age of the pipeline meant it was no longer safe to operate, according to a news release from the prosecutor's office of the Mexican Environment Department.


The pipeline showed signs of corrosion at the spill site, about 655 kilometers (410 miles) east of Mexico City.


The spill had allowed about 11,200 liters (3,000 gallons) of crude oil to pollute 2 hectares (5 acres) of land.


Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, came under increased public scrutiny after a much larger oil spill on Dec. 23 unleashed 5,000 barrels of crude oil into a river feeding the Gulf of Mexico


In a press statement Monday, Pemex said it would obey the pipeline closure order, and would start work to replace deteriorated sections of the duct and reroute other parts to run underground.


Source: Associated Press


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