Mexican state energy company Pemex released large volumes of methane from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico last year, with leaks recurring despite warnings from the UN.

According to data seen by Reuters, months after academic researchers first reported two major methane leaks from the company’s Zaap C platform in 2022, the facility continued to have large and frequent emissions. Pemex refused to comment on the previously unseen UN data and denied any leaks.

Mexico has pledged to reduce methane emissions, as reducing leaks of the gas from oil and gas infrastructure is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to slow climate change in the short term.

Tonne for tonne, methane traps more heat in the atmosphere than CO₂ does and is therefore a stronger driver of climate change in the short term. New technology has made it easier to identify and stop large leaks of the colourless and odourless gas.

Reuters first reported that researchers had discovered methane leaking from the platform in 2022. A Mexican senator cited Reuters’ stories when filing a criminal complaint against the Pemex CEO, who was the energy minister at the time.

The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) International Methane Emissions Observatory launched a scheme in 2023 to warn governments and energy companies of extensive methane emissions.

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By GlobalData

Using the data from the scheme, Reuters performed spatial data analysis to look for leaks that triggered warnings in the data, which details more than 1,600 methane detections around the world.

There was a cluster of methane plumes observed on 25 different days in 2023 just off the coast of Mexico, at the location of the platform flagged in 2022. The UNEP confirmed the plumes were from Pemex’s Zaap-C platform.

However, Reuters could not determine whether Pemex had taken steps to address the leaks as UNEP releases data 45–75 days after detection, so the data does not yet show whether the platform is leaking now.

The latest revelations come as Mexico’s Government ordered Pemex to expropriate a hydrogen plant owned by French gas company Air Liquide.