Mexico oil sector accidents raise doubts about deep water exploration

6/19/2017 Reuters

Oil Rig 2 by Flickr user tsuda Photo by Flickr user tsudaAs Mexico opens its energy market to more private investment, the country’s drive to exploit untapped deepwater oil riches has raised safety concerns due to mounting accidents that have blotted the country’s safety record.

The biggest Mexican oil refinery Salina Cruz has been offline since a fire broke out at the coastal facility on Wednesday following a tropical storm, the latest in a string of mishaps.

Violent summer storms have visited Mexico for years, but the country has very little experience in deep water drilling, a risky activity still marked by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well blow out in the northern Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and pumped 5 million barrels of oil into the sea. That disaster prompted a rethink of safety measures in the United States.

As a result, U.S. operators now have on permanent standby a so-called capping stack that ultimately sealed the well, while third-party inspectors verify deepwater project safety.

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