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IXTOC I

Bahia de Campeche, Mexico | 1979-Jun-03

Initial Notification: On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The water depth at the wellhead site is about 50 m (164 feet). The IXTOC I was being drilled by the SEDCO 135, a semi-submersible platform on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). A loss of drilling mud circulation caused the blowout to occur. The oil and gas blowing out of the well ignited, causing the platform to catch fire. The burning platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout. PEMEX hired blowout control experts and other spill control experts including Red Adair, Martech International of Houston, and the Mexican diving company, Daivaz. The Martech response included 50 personnel on site, the remotely operated vehicle TREC, and the submersible Pioneer I. The TREC attempted to find a safe approach to the Blowout Preventer (BOP). The approach was complicated by poor visibility and debris on the seafloor including derrick wreckage and 3000 meters of drilling pipe. Divers were eventually able to reach and activate the BOP, but the pressure of the oil and gas caused the valves to begin rupturing. The BOP was reopened to prevent destroying it. Two relief wells were drilled to relieve pressure from the well to allow response personnel to cap it. Norwegian experts were contracted to bring in skimming equipment and containment booms, and to begin cleanup of the spilled oil. The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

Incident Details
Spill, potential spill, or other:Oil Spill
Cause of incident:Collision
Products of concern:IXTOC I crude oil
Latitude (approximate): 19° 24.50′ North
Longitude (approximate): 92° 19.50′ West
On-Water Recovery: No information
Shoreline Cleanup: No information
Dispersants: Evaluated and applied
In-Situ Burn: Evaluated and applied
Bioremediation: Not applicable
Note: Documents are posted chronologically and early reports likely contain factual errors. These errors may be corrected in a later report.