The Washington Post

Pemex admits to release of methane

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Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos oil company acknowledg­ed Thursday it released a huge plume of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the Gulf of Mexico late last year.

The gas release came in December when one of the company’s oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico stopped flaring, or burning off oil well gases. The company, known as Pemex, claimed the gases escaped unburned for a few hours; however, researcher­s in a published report in June said it happened over a period of more than two weeks. The researcher­s’ report in the journal Environmen­tal Science and Technology Letters estimated that the leak contained about 40,000 tons of methane. The article estimated that would be equivalent to releasing about 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Petroleos Mexicanos, however, said only 22 percent of the gas release was methane, and the rest was innocuous nitrogen. The company said the total amount of methane released was 2,224 tons, about 5 percent of the amount estimated by the Spanish researcher­s. However, that would still be a very large amount of methane to release at one time and in one place.

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