EXCLUSIVE Offshore platform fire cuts Mexico oil output by 444,000 bpd


A fuel burner is seen at Mexico's state-run oil monopoly Pemex platform "Ku Maloob Zaap" in the Northeast Marine Region of Pemex Exploration and Production in the Bay of Campeche April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Garcia

MEXICO CITY, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A fire that struck an offshore oil platform operated by Mexico's state-run Pemex cut the company's production by 444,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to the lack of natural gas to re-inject into crude fields, a company document showed on Monday.

At least one person died and five others were missing following an explosion on Sunday at Pemex's E-Ku-A2 platform, part of a gas-processing center of the Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche.

The fire, the second at a Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMX.UL) offshore platform in less than two months, was brought under control hours later. The two fires have put a spotlight on Pemex's safety protocols given past refinery outages and fires. read more

"It was not a good weekend," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday, referring to deaths due to the platform accident and hurricane Grace.

A rapid decline in the availability of natural gas, which is used by Pemex to boost oil at its offshore fields, knocked crude output from more than 719,000 bpd before the accident to nearly 275,000 bpd through early Monday, according to the document, seen by Reuters, detailing Ku-Maloob-Zaap's operations.

It was not immediately clear if Pemex was able to recover at least a portion of the lost output. The Ku-Maloob-Zaap oilfield cluster is Pemex's biggest operational complex, accounting for more than 40% of its nearly 1.7 million barrels of daily crude output. The company did not reply to a Reuters request for operational details.

Two sources familiar with Pemex's operations said the fire affected the operational side of the platform, forcing the company to completely shut the gas supply and distribution to neighboring offshore oil fields.

Pemex said early on Monday that the affected platform's gas valves had been shut to extinguish the fire, while an emergency plan was put in place to search for the missing people, all of them contract workers.

In July, a fire erupted at another Pemex platform in the Bay of Campeche following an underwater gas pipeline leak. Bright orange flames resembling molten lava jumped out of the water, dubbed an "eye of fire" on social media due to the blaze's circular shape. That fire took more than five hours to fully put out. read more

Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City, and Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Dan Grebler and David Holmes

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