Mexico's oil operations hum along despite swine flu


    Mexico’s state oil industry is still humming along despite a deadly flu outbreak that forced the government to declare a national holiday from May 1 to May 5 to combat contagion.

    A Petroleos Mexicanos spokeswoman said Thursday operations are normal and that such strategic activities as oil production are excluded from the government’s work stoppage. The company is preparing a statement on how it is handling the flu threat.

    An oil executive with a foreign oil-services company said Mexican drilling activity has not been interrupted over the past week.

    “Everything is stable, we haven’t seen anything get shut down,” said the executive.

    He added that Pemex continues to ramp up activity in the northern district, where the company is developing the Burgos natural gas basin and the Chicontepec oil region.

    Mexico pumps around 2.7 million barrels a day and, despite a sharp decline in output since 2004, the country is a main supplier of oil imports into the U.S.

    Earlier this week, Pemex announced preventative measures, such as shutting off the air conditioning in administrative offices and sending home any employees with flu symptoms, to keep staff healthy.

    Late Wednesday, President Felipe Calderon announced a suspension of nonessential state administrative activities for the first five days of May. In Mexico there are eight confirmed deaths from swine flu. Including those eight, suspected swine flu deaths are at 176.

    Respiratory infections, including influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis, are a leading cause of death in Mexico.


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