13. The IXTOC I Disaster
Oil well drilling excursions aren’t always associated with tragedies. What happened in IXTOC I in 1979 was though quite out of the ordinary. As Sedco 135F was drilling for Mexican Petroleum Company, something disastrous happened. During the drinking process, the hydrostatic pressure ideal for preventing influxes suddenly become faulty which hindered efficient mud circulation. The drilling team decided to draw out the drill and bung up the oil well. But due to lack of hydrostatic pressure, lots of gas and oil gushed into the atmosphere and suddenly exploded. The overwhelming fire flames left the drilling team in real trouble. The extreme fire flames ate up the structure and rig making them collapse. This made the seabed to be filled with wreckages that covered up to 3000 meters of the rig wellhead and pipes. The fact that it took nine months to properly assess and clear up the oil spill makes it one of the world’s largest spill ever. Within these nine months, the water is said to have been seriously condaminated with 3.5 billion oil barrels.