Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill surpasses IXTOC I as worst oil spill in Gulf of Mexico’s history

Mike Schuler
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July 1, 2010

Wait, the oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon blowout wasn’t previously the worst oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?

That’s right.  As mentioned in’s list of History’s 10 Most Famous Oil Spills the previous record holder for worst oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was IXTOC I, a 2 mile deep exploritory well that blew out on June 3, 1979 in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.  On that day, a loss of drilling mud and circulation caused a blowout on the SEDCO 135 semi-submersible platform (Sedco has since been acquired by Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon) which was on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).  The IXTOC I well continued to gush oil at a rate of 10,000 – 30,000 barrels per day (or 140 million gallons total) until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

Today, the oil spill caused by the April 20th blowout of the Deepwater Horizon eclipsed the IXTOC I as the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico’s history, with an estimated 140.6 million gallons spilled.  According to AP, this calculation is based on the higher end of the government’s range of barrels leaked per day, minus the amount BP says it has collected from the blown-out well using two containment systems.

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