Reflections on the Incident at Building B-2 of the

Pemex Headquarters Complex

  1. The explosion in the basement of the building in Pemex’s headquarters complex was not an industrial accident, as the building is not a facility in which petroleum products are processed, transported or sold. The explosion could have taken place in any other building that operated as an administrative center or office building (the Latin American Tower, for example).

  2. Had the explosion taken place in the adjacent Building B-1, however, where the Natural Gas Pipeline Control Center is located, it could have affected the ability of Pemex Gas to monitor and control the National Gas Pipeline System (supposing the absence of a parallel, off-site facility).

  3. Twenty-four hours later, the cause of the accident of January 31 is unknown. Three main lines of speculation circulate:

  4. a. A leak in an LGP line or tank caused heavier-than-air propane to accumulate near the floor where there was an electrical spark or an open flame.

    Update: Feb. 5th — Pemex informed lenders and bond-holders in a conference call that the explosion was caused by “an accumulation of gas in the basement of B2” (i.e, a maintenance issue).

    b. A leak in a natural gas pipeline caused lighter-than-air methane to accumulate near the ceiling where there was an electrical spark or an open flame.

    c. An incendiary device was planted (as occurred 30 years before when archives were destroyed in several fires in the archives of Pemex and the Oil Union).

  5. The prompt arrival at the scene of the incident of the president and the top tier of the federal government, plus the director general of Pemex, represents a proactive effort to avoid the public relations calamity of 1985 when senior officials from the PRI government of Miguel de la Madrid appeared to be indifferent to the plight of the hundreds or thousands of earthquake victims trapped by the collapse of buildings caused by the 8.1 earthquake of September 19th. The images on television and the Internet of a building that had partially collapsed with survivors trapped inside brought back memories of the collective trauma of that earthquake.

  6. The prompt arrival at the scene of the incident of the president and the top tier of the federal government, plus the director general of Pemex, represents a proactive effort to avoid the public relations calamity of 1985 when senior officials from the PRI government of Miguel de la Madrid appeared to be indifferent to the plight of the hundreds or thousands of earthquake victims trapped by the collapse of buildings caused by the 8.1 earthquake of September 19th. The images on television and the Internet of a building that had partially collapsed with survivors trapped inside brought back memories of the collective trauma of that earthquake.

  7. On the other hand, as in 1992, the incident may be used as a justification for taking other measures that have little, or no, bearing on the accident or its consequences. An example of this kind occurred when, following the explosion of Pemex gasoline in a sewer line in a poor neighborhood in Guadalajara, two months later Pemex announced a major restructuring (see link below).

  8. As was the case with the Pemex industrial accidents of 2012, 2010, 2007, 1996 1992 and 1979, in relation to which no executive or manager was held accountable; it is unlikely that any Pemex careerist will be inconvenienced by an investigation that might show him or her in an unfavorable light. An investigation into the “root cause” will continue until the accident is all but forgotten.

  9. If Pemex were Pemex, S.A. de C.V., the value of its shares, in response to this incident, would have slipped 3-5%, in anticipation of additional costs that will be necessary to repair or replace the building and its furnishings. Shares would not have fallen by 15-20%. In its conference call on February 5, Pemex executives stated that there would be no change in programs or plans for energy reform.

George Baker / Voto razonado

(01-Feb-2013)

En uno de nuestros reportes recientes [Market Note 154], ofrezco al nuevo Gobierno un criterio básico para una reforma energética: evitar hacer cualquier cambio que haga que Pemex o la Comisión Federal de Electricidad sean más eficientes sólo en México. . . .

Ya conocemos este drama: pasó el accidente de Guadalajara el 22 de abril de 1992, y el Presidente Carlos Salinas de Gortari demandó una respuesta por parte de Pemex. Pues bien, a mediados de julio, unos meses después, la respuesta de Pemex fue la reestructuración que hemos tenido por casi 20 años.

Viéndolo en retrospectiva, la respuesta no tenía nada que ver con las causas o prevención de accidentes del tipo que fuera..

To read the complete article:

http://busquedas.gruporeforma.com/reforma/Documentos/DocumentoImpresa.aspx?ValoresForma=1448948-1066,george+baker

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MEI Market Note 154: The Logic and Options for Energy Reform
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Written by

George Baker

Baker & Associates offers niche-market business and policy intelligence related to Mexico's oil and gas, power and chemical industries. Over 1,000 reports have been issued in the last 20 years. Subject matter expert and publisher George Baker, who directs the firm, has carried out consulting assignments starting in the late 1970s at the height of the Oil Boom in Mexico. He brings bilingual and bicultural skill-sets to understanding and responding to challenges of business and public policy, coupled with a deep familiarity with the history and idiosyncrasies of the Mexican operating environment.

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