What’s behind the fire in the middle of the sea of the Gulf of Mexico

What's behind the eye of fire: the fire in the middle of the sea of the Gulf of Mexico.

A fire in the middle of the sea, with flames that have continued to burn for hours: it has the incredible what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, where there was a phenomenon as spectacular as frightening. It is an underwater fire caused by the leakage of a gas pipeline. The impressive images of the fire have gone around the world, causing bewilderment and a question: how did it happen?

The explosion and flames in the Gulf of Mexico

The deflagration involved a pipeline Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company known as Permex. In frames capturing the fire, we see in the water what has been described as "an eye of fire." The flames, which seemed unquenchable, came very close to the Ku-Charly platform, which was about 140 meters from the explosion. Fortunately, there were no casualties or injuries and the area was not evacuated. The tongues of fire were extinguished thanks to the intervention of some special vehicles that have used jets of water and nitrogen, taming the fire after five hours and a half. It is not yet clear what environmental damage has been caused by this incredible phenomenon. In addition to the fire that has inflamed the surface of the Ocean, there is in fact to consider the huge loss of gas occurred in depth. Angel Carrizales, the head of the Mexican environmental agency, has assured that no oil spills have occurred in the water. But for now there are few certainties.

A fire in the middle of the sea: how is it possible?

Behind the fire in the middle of the sea of the Gulf of Mexico there is a gas leak from an undersea pipeline that caused an explosion off the Yucatan Peninsula. How is it possible for flames to develop underwater? This phenomenon, which seems impossible, is actually not that uncommon. Fuel, heat and oxygen are needed to fuel a fire at sea. When the heat produced by combustion exceeds 2 thousand degrees, a process known as water electrolysis is generated, in which the water molecule undergoes a split into oxygen and hydrogen. Therefore, hydrogen and oxygen are added to the initial reaction, feeding the combustion and the heat released. This triggers a chain reaction that makes it impossible to extinguish the flames without external intervention.

The mystery behind the fire

An anonymous source working at Pemex told the media that it all started after a storm so strong that it caused damage to the platform's machinery. The gas leak that caused the fire occurred to be precise in the Bay of Campeche, south of the Gulf of Mexico where the company's largest oil field is located. Pemex has always been a much-discussed company, mainly because of its high debt. In 2019, Emilio Lozoya, former head of the oil company, was indicted along with his sister, mother and wife for corruption and was extradited from Spain to Mexico.