One word is crucial to the terms of Mexico’s historic first oil tender on Wednesday, but it does not appear anywhere in the bid documents. It is Ixtoc. For 30 years, until BP’s Macondo disaster in 2010, this Mexican well had held the lamentable distinction as the source of the world’s worst accidental oil spill.
Like the 14 exploration blocks being auctioned this week, Ixtoc-I was being drilled in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico when it suffered a blowout in 1979. As a result the contracts being awarded this week come with stringent guarantees attached, in case there is another catastrophe.