Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mexico launches investigation into deadly oil pipeline explosion

MEXICO CITY - Mexican officials say investigators have begun probing a massive oil pipeline explosion that killed 28 people.

Valentin Meneses says a commission has been formed in tandem with state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos to investigate. Menses is interior secretary for the state of Puebla, where the blast took place in the town of San Martin Texmelucan.

Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, expected to reopen the pipeline as early as Dec. 20 after an explosion killed 28 people and scorched homes in the central Mexican city.

Pemex Chief Executive Officer Juan Jose Suarez Coppel and Deputy Refining Director Francisco Fernandez told reporters on Dec. 19 in Mexico City that the explosion may have been caused by thieves trying to steal fuel, “There are elements that point towards an illegal tapping, but we won’t have a definitive cause until the affected pipeline gets a metallurgical investigation," said Coppel. The probe is expected to last at least three months, Fernandez said.

The 30-inch Nuevo Teapa pipeline in San Martin Texmelucan, Puebla state, exploded at 5:50 a.m. local time on Dec. 19, causing crude to flow into a nearby river and a cloud of smoke to blacken the sky, the Milenio television network reported.

Pemex said that it had five million barrels worth 9.3 billion pesos ($750 million) stolen in 2008. Pemex has detected more than 600 cases of illegal tapping from its pipelines this year, Suarez Coppel said.

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