A leaking oil platform that is on fire and pouring thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico could take several months to fix, state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said Thursday.
Since a drilling rig slammed into a production platform Oct. 23, killing at least 21 workers, a total of 11,700 barrels (a barrel holds 42 gallons) of oil have flowed into the gulf, Pemex Assistant Director for Exploration and Production Pedro Silva Lopez told reporters invited to fly over the site with company and environmental officials.
Silva said at least two beaches in the Gulf coast states of Tabasco and Campeche have been affected by the oil spill, but the full extent of the damage has not been determined.
A fire was still raging Wednesday at the damaged well, about 20 miles offshore from the port of Dos Bocas in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, but only faint traces of crude could be seen shimmering on the water.
The company plans to install a new valve assembly to replace a damaged one on the well, but Silva said officials are not sure that will stop the leak.
If it doesn't, another procedure to block the damaged well could take as long as four to five months to complete, said Carlos Morales, Pemex's director of production and exploration.
Pemex is losing about 5,700 barrels of oil a day in production at the offshore platform. The company expects the average daily production this year to finish slightly above 3.1 million barrels, said Jesus Reyes, director-general of Pemex.