The Jan. 31 explosion that killed at least 37 Petroleos Mexicanos employees at company headquarters in Mexico City was caused by methane gas and contributing factors, the Attorney General’s office said today in an e-mailed statement.
Prosecutors confirmed methane gas combined with traces of hydrocarbons beneath the building triggered the explosion. Vapors from solvents also contributed to the explosion, which was a result of methane being ignited by electric cables used for maintenance, according to the statement.
The Mexico City headquarters was used to store hydrocarbons eight decades ago, according to the statement. More than 100 employees were injured in the blast and site operations were shut down for a week.
Pemex, as the state-owned oil company is known, is Latin America’s largest crude producer and funds about a third of Mexico’s federal budget. President Enrique Pena Nieto is expected to submit a bill to congress next week that would increase private sector investment in the energy sector and open up Pemex’s monopoly to competition. …
I had an apocalyptic dream as a kid of fires springing up from the ground. Then I found out years later about the massive amounts of methane ice under the ocean that could be released if the earth heats up too much. If that happens, our planet could burn and lose the oxygen atmosphere that most species need to live. Stories of exploding methane are potentially far more ugly than most people realize.