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Gulf oil spill: Mexico worries about oil reaching its waters, hints it may sue BP

May 13, 2010 |  2:08 pm

  Ixtox1_thumb200

Mexican officials fear the late-summer reversal of currents in the Gulf of Mexico and hurricanes could send the BP oil spill headed toward its waters if the leak is not stopped soon.

Carlos Morales, the head of exploration and production for the state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) oil company told reporters he worried that if other alternatives don't work, a relief well could take several months to drill.

“That is the range we are talking about, from a week or two to four to five months,” Morales said at a news conference Wednesday.

A day earlier, Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said his staff was looking into legal recourses against BP, which is responsible for the 210,000-gallon daily flow into the Gulf.

Some industry veterans find a bit of irony in Quesada's concern, as PEMEX is responsible for the biggest offshore blowout in history, when its Ixtoc I well blew out in 1979 in the Bay of Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas, and leaked at a rate of more than 420,000 to 1.2 million gallons a day for nearly 10 months. Oil from that spill reached Texas beaches, causing an estimated $4-million loss in tourism revenue, according to an Interior Department Study. Several U.S. lawsuits were filed against PEMEX and a privately held Mexican company.

Photo: Ixtoc I blowout. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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