Fire on Pemex’s Akal B Offshore Platform

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Offshore accidents, Personal Injury

There was a fire on a Pemex offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on April 6, 2024.  The fire broke out on Pemex’s Akal-B offshore platform.  The platform is part of the Cantarell production complex in the Bay of Campeche.  Early reports indicate there was a fire on the facility, followed by an explosion.  According to a statement released by Pemex, the fire broke out in a location where pipes supply fuel gas to turbomachinery.  According to the company, 9 people sustained injuries: two employees of Pemex and seven from contractor Diavaz.  Other media outlets have indicated as many as 11 people have been killed in the explosion.  It is unclear at present on the total casualties as a result of this tragic incident.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by this tragic accident.

Offshore platforms, by their very nature, are complex structures brimming with potential hazards, not least among them being the risks associated with the supply of fuel gas via pipelines for the operation of machinery essential to the platform’s functions. Gas leaks, leading to explosions, represent a significant risk, primarily because the machinery on these platforms often operates under high pressure and in conditions that are inherently risky. Fuel gas, used to power everything from the main generators to heating systems, is highly flammable and, if leaked, can form an explosive mixture when it comes into contact with air. The enclosed spaces and limited evacuation routes on offshore platforms exacerbate the dangers posed by such leaks, making early detection and control vital to preventing catastrophic outcomes.

Several potential causes can lead to gas leaks, and consequently, explosions on offshore platforms. Corrosion of pipelines, improper installation and maintenance of gas systems, and mechanical failures are among the primary concerns. The saline marine environment significantly accelerates the corrosion of metal, including pipelines that transport fuel gas. Without regular inspection and maintenance, these pipelines can weaken over time, leading to leaks. Furthermore, the complex installation of these systems requires meticulous attention to detail; any oversight during installation or maintenance can result in leaks that may go undetected until it’s too late.

The human factor also plays a crucial role in the safety of offshore platforms. Operator error, lack of adequate training, and failure to follow safety protocols can all lead to situations where gas leaks are more likely to occur. In the demanding environment of an offshore platform, where the margin for error is slim, the importance of rigorous training and adherence to safety protocols cannot be overstated. Ensuring that all personnel are familiar with the operation of the gas supply systems and the emergency procedures in case of a leak is essential for preventing explosions and safeguarding lives.

Given these risks, the legal implications of an explosion on an offshore platform due to a gas leak are significant. Victims of such accidents may face severe injuries, psychological trauma, and financial burdens due to medical expenses and lost wages. Families may suffer the loss of loved ones, compounding the tragedy. In these cases, it is crucial for victims and their families to seek experienced legal representation. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help navigate the complex legal landscape, ensuring that those affected receive the compensation they deserve for their suffering and losses. Our firm specializes in representing victims of offshore platform accidents, advocating tirelessly for our clients’ rights and striving for the justice they deserve

There is an unfortunately long history of offshore incidents involving Pemex.  A helicopter that provides transport to Pemex platforms offshore crashed in the Bay of Campeche on June 21, 2023.  At least five workers were killed in a fire on Pemex’s E-KU-A2 platform in the Ku Maloob Zaap oil field, Bay of Campeche, Mexico on August 22, 2021.  On July 2, 2021, fire broke out 150 meters from the Ku Maloob Zaap’s Ku-C satellite platform in the Campeche Sound when a natural gas pipeline caught fire underwater.  In 2015, there were multiple fatalities after a fire broke out on another PEMEX platform in the Bay of Campeche, the Abkatún platform.

Safe platform operators must perform regular maintenance and inspections in order to ensure the safety of their workers and the general public.  When this isn’t done, dangerous incidents can result.

Spagnoletti Law Firm has handled numerous lawsuits involving offshore platforms on behalf of injured workers from all over the world.  Our lawyers have extensive experience in offshore personal injury and wrongful death litigation and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured as a result of the negligence of another party.

The experienced and aggressive offshore injure attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of this tragic accident. There are strict and short time limits on making claims related to offshore accidents, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your rights.