thumbnail of Blowout: A Special Report
Hide -
<v Announcer>Special report. Stay tuned. <v Announcer>Funding for this program provided by this station and other public television stations.
<v Narrator>Since June 3rd of this year, a Mexican owned and operated oil well in the Gulf of Mexico <v Narrator>has spewed thousands of barrels of crude into the Gulf. <v Narrator>All efforts to cap the runaway well have failed. <v Narrator>Not even renowned oil firefighter Red Adair has been able to stem the constant flow of <v Narrator>oil and natural gas. There is no telling if and when the well will be capped. <v Narrator>Meanwhile, residents of the South Texas coast have lost millions of dollars in tourist <v Narrator>revenues. Fishermen are wondering if the spill will damage future shrimp and redfish <v Narrator>crops. Charges and countercharges over liability for damages have swelled print <v Narrator>and broadcast news reports since August. <v Narrator>Lawsuits have been lodged against the Mexican oil and drilling companies and against <v Narrator>Sedco, the drilling contracting firm founded by Texas Governor Bill Clements. <v Narrator>But throughout the entire episode, the frightening specter of future spills has been <v Narrator>foremost in everybody's minds. <v Unnamed commentator>But our technology in this country. Yes, we do have fine technology in this country, <v Unnamed commentator>but let me state emphatically that there is no nation in the world <v Unnamed commentator>that has the capabilities to deal with the amount of oil on the high seas
<v Unnamed commentator>that has impacted the Gulf of Mexico. <v Unnamed commentator>The technology in the world is just not there. <v Unnamed commentator>The best we can do is to hope to minimize the effects of the oil <v Unnamed commentator>that does reach our continental shelf areas, our estuarine <v Unnamed commentator>areas, and finally, our shoreline. <v Unnamed commentator>The best way to minimize damage <v Unnamed commentator>in this, in these kinds of instances, of course, is not to let them happen in the first <v Unnamed commentator>place. <v Narrator>Despite the considerable damage caused by the spill, Mexican leaders have reason to <v Narrator>rejoice. The vast quantities of oil escaping from the well confirm their belief that the <v Narrator>Bay of Campeche holds unequaled hydrocarbon deposits. <v Narrator>Officials now estimate that nearly 800 million barrels of crude lie beneath the damaged <v Narrator>wellhead. Moreover, total proven reserves for the entire Bay of Campeche are now listed <v Narrator>at over 10 billion barrels. <v Narrator>For a nation that has faced severe economic conditions for many years, oil could provide <v Narrator>a solid foundation for a secure future.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish with the translator speaking over him at times, just keeping translator audio] <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator> We want to make our oil the axis, the tutor, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>for the development of our country.Starting <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>from the plans we have to make it possible for us to have energy available <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>for our development, and this surplus will be exported. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>On both of these points we are certain that the plans we are drawing up <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>will permit us in the following years to solve the basic <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>problems of the country, basically the <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>unemployment. <v Narrator>Oil dependent countries such as the United States and Japan are anxiously anticipating
<v Narrator>the continued development of the Mexican oil industry. <v Narrator>Many feel that Mexico's huge reserves will buy the time needed to refine alternative <v Narrator>energy sources. During the next 60 minutes, we'll look at the immediate effects of <v Narrator>the Blowout and Mexico's reaction to its newfound wealth. <v Announcer>Blowout, a special report. <v Narrator>Good evening. I'm Susan Wright. During the first days, the Blowout disaster news accounts <v Narrator>from the well site were sketchy at best. <v Narrator>Terse reports indicated that the runaway well called Ixtoc 1 was one of 18 <v Narrator>wells in the Bay of Campeche belonging to Pemex, Mexico's nationalized oil company. <v Narrator>No one imagined that the Blowout would be uncappable or that the resulting spill would <v Narrator>become the largest ever recorded. <v Narrator>Oil gushed from the ocean floor at the rate of 30,000 barrels a day. <v Narrator>On June 27th oil firefighter Red Adair and his crew managed to deactivate <v Narrator>the flow from the well. An hour later, it blew out again.
<v Narrator>Adair immediately called for the drilling of two relief wells. <v Narrator>These wells would intercept the crude and divert it to nearby tankers. <v Narrator>Pemex officials cautioned, however, that the relief wells would not be in operation <v Narrator>before early fall. In the meantime, 2 million barrels of crude could be expected <v Narrator>to spill into the Gulf in July. <v Narrator>Owners of the drilling rig presented a theory explaining the cause of the blowout. <v Narrator>On June 3rd the drill bit had actually penetrated a formation containing nearly 800 <v Narrator>million barrels of oil. Once the bit hit this open space. <v Narrator>The drilling mud used to send residue to the surface streamed out of the drill shaft. <v Narrator>Drilling stopped immediately. <v Narrator>After a period of time, workers on the rig started to withdraw the drill bit to assess <v Narrator>the problem as the withdrawal began, Blowout stage 1 was reached. <v Narrator>The drilling pipe was raised to the upper sections of the rig. <v Narrator>The thicker drill collar was elevated to a height just above the surface of the water. <v Narrator>Unfortunately, the drill caller was at the same level as the standard blowout protector, <v Narrator>or BOP when stage 2 began, two sections of the
<v Narrator>drill pipe had stuck together and workers were unable to pull all of the pipe onto the <v Narrator>rig. The remaining drill pipe started banging against the rig. <v Narrator>The resulting sparks ignited natural gas that had flowed through the drill shaft to the <v Narrator>surface. Normally, the blowout preventer would have sheared off the drilling pipe <v Narrator>and stopped the flow of gas. But the preventer was not designed to cut pipe as thick <v Narrator>as the drill collar, the fire raged out of control, the derrick started to melt down, <v Narrator>and the spider deck ignited. <v Narrator>Workers were forced to abandon the rig. <v Narrator>The fire continued to spread and the derrick completely melted away. <v Narrator>The remaining pipe on the rig slid into the water, knocking the BOP out of line by <v Narrator>about 10 degrees. Red Adair's efforts had failed because the preventer was <v Narrator>out of skew. He was able to cap the top of the BOP. <v Narrator>But within an hour, the pressure groups so intense that oil and gas began to flow <v Narrator>directly from the floor of the bay. <v Narrator>Capping the gusher was now virtually impossible. <v Narrator>Once Red Adair's efforts failed, grim reality set in.
<v Narrator>Oil was still spewing from the well at a rate of 30,000 barrels a day. <v Narrator>Pemex officials were not only unable to cap the well, they were also unable to contain <v Narrator>the northward flow of the spill. <v Capt. Charles Corbett>On several occasions during this whole period of time, the National Response Team has <v Capt. Charles Corbett>gone on record through the Department of State to Mexico, that we'd be happy to provide <v Capt. Charles Corbett>any assistance that we could. <v Capt. Charles Corbett>For a good while, Mexico used what they consider <v Capt. Charles Corbett>to be the best in industry versus the best in government approach. <v Capt. Charles Corbett>So we were not requested to participate in Mexico until fairly well <v Capt. Charles Corbett>on in the spill. <v Narrator>Captain Charles Corbett of the U.S. Coast Guard and Ken Bigling of the Environmental <v Narrator>Protection Agency are cochairman of the National Response Team. <v Narrator>The national team is a policymaking body that responds to spills of oil and other <v Narrator>hazardous materials. <v Capt. Charles Corbett>When we decided that the oil, in fact, was going to reach the Texas coast, <v Capt. Charles Corbett>the predesignated on scene coordinator began to gear up for just such an occurrence.
<v Capt. Charles Corbett>He identified equipment throughout the country, people that he might use to respond to <v Capt. Charles Corbett>the spill. Transportation corridors that he might use to get the equipment <v Capt. Charles Corbett>there and so forth. <v Narrator>In this case, the predesignated on scene coordinator was Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander <v Narrator>Jim Paskewich. <v Jim Paskewich>The primary areas that the scientific assessment team determined <v Jim Paskewich>had to be protected at all costs was essentially Laguna Madre. <v Jim Paskewich>In other words, everything behind the barrier islands was <v Jim Paskewich>very, very sensitive from an ecological viewpoint that had <v Jim Paskewich>to do with the estuaries, which <v Jim Paskewich>really are spawning grounds for shrimp, which is a major industry in the state <v Jim Paskewich>of Texas here. <v Jim Paskewich>Many, many juvenile species are bred in Laguna Madre. <v Jim Paskewich>There are also some very sensitive plant life there. <v Jim Paskewich>And all indications show that that was the area that had to be protected. <v Jim Paskewich>And our response strategy then was to examine how we could best
<v Jim Paskewich>accomplish that. And what we found is that this type of beach <v Jim Paskewich>in the affected area is very hard packed. <v Jim Paskewich>And if oil did come ashore, the ecological damage <v Jim Paskewich>in comparison with it landing on the beach was drastically less <v Jim Paskewich>than if it showed up in these backwaters in Laguna Madre. <v Jim Paskewich>Therefore, we decided that the best way to do it was to protect all the inlets. <v Jim Paskewich>In other words, if we mobilized men and material and equipment so to stop <v Jim Paskewich>the oil from going through the inlets that allowed the oil to <v Jim Paskewich>hit the beach and clean and clean up the oil when it was on the beach as necessary. <v Jim Paskewich>That would essentially do the- would be the most productive from an environmental <v Jim Paskewich>viewpoint and also financial. <v Narrator>The Coast Guard strategy proved successful as far as the valuable spawning grounds are <v Narrator>concerned. What little oil did see past the barrier islands was cleaned up immediately. <v Narrator>Other forms of wildlife in the area were only minimally disturbed.
<v Bob Whistler>Initially, it was the things we did notice, <v Bob Whistler>whereas the fact that the bird life seemingly seemed to disappear. <v Bob Whistler>And this was pronounced in those birds that feed primarily along the source <v Bob Whistler>zone, and the sanderlings, and the, the willets itself <v Bob Whistler>and these sorts of birds. <v Bob Whistler>We didn't know what happened to them, and we were worried <v Bob Whistler>that perhaps they may either have ingested oil or oily products <v Bob Whistler>or something, and they just disappeared. <v Bob Whistler>We found that apparently they begin to disperse due to this oil covering to <v Bob Whistler>different other similar areas. <v Narrator>Bob Whistler is the chief naturalist at the Padre Island National Seashore. <v Narrator>His office is responsible for protecting and maintaining the beaches and wildlife of the <v Narrator>Padre Island National Park.
<v Bob Whistler>The impact on the invertebrates is something <v Bob Whistler>that is very subtle. There wasn't enough oil coverage <v Bob Whistler>for a long enough time that we feel that there was any impact there <v Bob Whistler>in any sort of substantial amount. <v Bob Whistler>We don't know yet because this is still going on. <v Bob Whistler>There was some impact from some of the, uh, the the <v Bob Whistler>birds that feed out in the open Gulf. <v Bob Whistler>And because they feed out there, they were more prone to be affected <v Bob Whistler>by the oil, and were, than some of these other birds. <v Bob Whistler>Some of the blue-faced booby's and some of these other kinds of birds we found washed in <v Bob Whistler>that were covered with oil and these were primarily the only <v Bob Whistler>ones that we had any problem with it were were oil-covered and there <v Bob Whistler>were too many of those. I would say there's perhaps about a half a dozen or so.
<v Bob Whistler>And there was a Fish and Wildlife team <v Bob Whistler>and center established to take care of oil birds. <v Bob Whistler>So there was provisions made <v Bob Whistler>for this type of thing. <v Bob Whistler>So we didn't have the impact that we were really greatly concerned with in <v Bob Whistler>this regard. <v Narrator>But while the spawning grounds and wildlife were protected, the Padre Island beaches <v Narrator>took a beating. On August 6th, large concentrations of tar balls began <v Narrator>drifting ashore. On August 15th, oil slicks of varying size and density <v Narrator>landed on the beaches. <v Jim Paskewich>The problem here is you have hundreds of miles of coast that you have to look at <v Jim Paskewich>and protect and deploy equipment and <v Jim Paskewich>try to clean up. So the magnitude of the problem is <v Jim Paskewich>much, much more than just having an isolated area where once the event <v Jim Paskewich>has happened, you go in, you clean it up, you
<v Jim Paskewich>?inaudible? it off or some other kind of devices to isolate it. <v Jim Paskewich>But here, it's completely different. You, you have an impact, <v Jim Paskewich>you go, you clean it up. <v Jim Paskewich>And maybe 2 days later there's the same area you just clean is reimpacted. <v Jim Paskewich>And those are the type of thing you have to face. <v Jim Paskewich>So for a while there, it looked like a never ending battle. <v Narrator>The beaches of South Padre Island are prime tourist attractions. <v Narrator>During a normal summer season, people from all over the world come to bask in the sun and <v Narrator>drift in the warm Gulf waters. <v Narrator>The tourist trade usually accounts for nearly 50 million dollars in revenue. <v Narrator>But this summer was different. Heavy concentrations of oil were present on South Padre <v Narrator>beaches for only about two weeks in mid-August. <v Narrator>Even so, negative publicity caused business to drop off severely long before the <v Narrator>first slick washed ashore. <v Paul Cunningham>Tourism has been affected by virtue of the publicity the oil spill because <v Paul Cunningham>it's human nature. You don't want to take your vacation somewhere where it might not
<v Paul Cunningham>be as enjoyable as you thought it would be, or that would be spoiled by virtue of the <v Paul Cunningham>beaches not being usable. <v Paul Cunningham>I wouldn't want to go someplace and spend 150 dollars a day for my vacation <v Paul Cunningham>with my family, with the thought that we couldn't enjoy the facilities. <v Paul Cunningham>And so mostly it's been fear that has affected tourism down here. <v Paul Cunningham>Not the oil spill itself. <v Narrator>Whether it was fear or the actual presence of oil. <v Narrator>The incident had a drastic impact on local business. <v Ralph Thompson>Business fell off as much as 70 percent of what it would have been. <v Ralph Thompson>So I say we've lost certainly several millions of dollars in lost revenue <v Ralph Thompson>as a direct result of the spill and the publicity. <v Skipper Ray>I was running forty 45 a month <v Skipper Ray>and I expected to run at least 30 <v Skipper Ray>in the month of September and probably <v Skipper Ray>40 in August, in which I did I think 15 trips in August <v Skipper Ray>and something like 5 or 6 in September.
<v Skipper Ray>Fishing was good, but there wasn't nobody here to take. <v Jimmy Halliburton>We were down about 70 percent in August, 50 percent <v Jimmy Halliburton>in September, and we're just now into October so <v Jimmy Halliburton>we don't really have any good figures yet. <v Jimmy Halliburton>We've cut our hours back, employees back. <v Jimmy Halliburton>We're just more or less on a skeleton crew, just enough to man the place. <v Jimmy Halliburton>We're spending all of our personal money trying to keep it going because I just, <v Jimmy Halliburton>I was determined not to close. <v Jimmy Halliburton>And but if they don't do something quick, well, it's <v Jimmy Halliburton>we're gonna have to do something because I can't you know, you <v Jimmy Halliburton>just finally run out of money. <v Narrator>The only type of financial help that has been offered so far is low interest Small <v Narrator>Business Administration loans. South Padre residents are quick to point out, however, <v Narrator>that in most cases these loans just are not enough.r <v Ralph Thompson>Here is a situation where people are simply borrowing more money to <v Ralph Thompson>stay alive. Money that's going to have to be repaid.
<v Ralph Thompson>It's just a matter of lower interest than they would ordinarily pay. <v Ralph Thompson>The small businessman, it may be his salvation to carry him through, <v Ralph Thompson>but he's still going to be faced with paying those moneys back. <v Ralph Thompson>And so I don't think it's certainly the answer in terms <v Ralph Thompson>of what's needed here at South Padre Island and interest. <v Paul Cunningham>All it is, is a cheaper interest rate compared to commercial lending. <v Paul Cunningham>And it could be maybe a 4 or 5,000 dollar savings. <v Paul Cunningham>All it would be in 1 year. <v Paul Cunningham>And a loan is like anything else, you've got to pay it back. <v Paul Cunningham>So I'm really not out to borrow more money to pay back next year. <v Jimmy Halliburton>They told us that if there was any lag in it, they would have people directly from <v Jimmy Halliburton>Washington down here to help us to expedite this. <v Jimmy Halliburton>And they haven't done it. They've sent farm letters out which say they're treating <v Jimmy Halliburton>more like just a small business loan, not an economic disaster loan. <v Narrator>The lack of immediate help and attention from Washington has left many people on South
<v Narrator>Padre feeling like the federal government has forgotten them. <v Narrator>Some think that the recent U.S. Mexican oil sales negotiations are the reason for <v Narrator>Washington's lack of support. <v Paul Cunningham>I can at times feel like I'm a pawn in a big game, so to speak. <v Paul Cunningham>I have a feeling that they're skirting South Padre island and the issue of the oil <v Paul Cunningham>spill in order to get bigger fish. <v Paul Cunningham>And as a result of that, I don't really expect to see any relief via President Carter <v Paul Cunningham>or my federal government, because they're negotiating with Mexico for energy. <v Paul Cunningham>I have a feeling we're gonna probably just be passed up in the whole shuffle. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>You know, ?inaudible? <v Kirby Lilljedahl>Washington is virtually impossible in <v Kirby Lilljedahl>the short term. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>We don't know what what's going on with respect to our State Department and their State <v Kirby Lilljedahl>Department involving the gas and oil negotiations <v Kirby Lilljedahl>as it may have affected the oil spill.
<v Kirby Lilljedahl>We're just not privy to that so we don't know. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>Probably, we probably feel <v Kirby Lilljedahl>that our problem was certainly not number 1 on <v Kirby Lilljedahl>the State Department's priority. <v Jimmy Halliburton>I think more or less, the federal government is more interested in Mexico, <v Jimmy Halliburton>in their dealings with their government than they are with us, because the only contact <v Jimmy Halliburton>that we've had with the federal government in a way down here is the Small Business <v Jimmy Halliburton>Administration and Senator Tower's office. <v Jimmy Halliburton>We've had or myself have had no <v Jimmy Halliburton>dealings with anyone else in the federal government. <v Narrator>Officials in Washington, however, feel like the federal government has done a lot to <v Narrator>alleviate the problems caused by the spill. <v Narrator>Robert Krueger is ambassador at large designate for Mexican affairs. <v Narrator>He has participated in the sales negotiations for several months. <v Narrator>He states that no type of trade off was arranged. <v Robert Krueger>I've participated ever since July in all of the discussions regarding natural gas
<v Robert Krueger>that were underway between our governments. <v Robert Krueger>The question of the oil spill never at any time arose in any of those <v Robert Krueger>discussions. There was no sort of quid pro quo tradeoff. <v Robert Krueger>We simply negotiated with them in a commercial transaction for the outlines of <v Robert Krueger>a natural gas agreement. What has been done on the federal level is in the first <v Robert Krueger>instance, the federal government has spent something like 75,000 dollars a day <v Robert Krueger>from using funds from the revolving fund or in order to help cover cleanup <v Robert Krueger>costs. I think that's a significant amount. <v Robert Krueger>It is not an amount that covers all damages, perhaps that might be brught, <v Robert Krueger>but there's probably no way of assessing all that in advance. <v Robert Krueger>In other cases, there's legislation that still may be brought before the Congress <v Robert Krueger>to address specifically this concern and damages that individuals may have suffered <v Robert Krueger>because of this. We are dealing right now with the Justice Department and the <v Robert Krueger>legal section of State Department to see what the options are for the U.S. <v Robert Krueger>government in terms, legally what our options are, in terms of
<v Robert Krueger>addressing this question. But among other things, there is a <v Robert Krueger>deficiency, as I understand it, or a lack of any very extensive <v Robert Krueger>international existing body of law for questions of this kind. <v Narrator>This is not the first time that the United States has been involved with Mexico in a <v Narrator>controversy of this kind. <v Narrator>In the early 1960s, a serious problem concerning the quality of water flowing <v Narrator>from the Colorado River into northern Mexican farmlands arose. <v Narrator>This situation is now being used as the basis for Mexico's refusal to compensate <v Narrator>Americans affected by the spill. <v T.R. Martin>The problem begun in 1961 <v T.R. Martin>when by an unpredicted confluence of circumstances <v T.R. Martin>the salinity of the water we were delivering to Mexico more than <v T.R. Martin>doubled. <v T.R. Martin>We were surprised. But Mexico, of course, was at <v T.R. Martin>the burdened end and complained at once.
<v Narrator>T.R. Martin is a special assistant in the State Department's Mexican affairs office. <v Narrator>He has also acknowledged as the department's foremost expert on the Mexican-American <v Narrator>salinity crisis. <v T.R. Martin>It was our belief that agricultural drainage is not a contaminant <v T.R. Martin>under international law. <v T.R. Martin>Many agricultural areas were draining into the Colorado River up and <v T.R. Martin>down the river. <v T.R. Martin>And secondly, because of the provision in the treaty that Colorado <v T.R. Martin>River water might come from any and all sources. <v T.R. Martin>We believed that the agricultural drainage was a legitimate source <v T.R. Martin>and that hence this water was not being delivered contrary to the treaty, <v T.R. Martin>but rather that Mexico should accept it under the treaty that began <v T.R. Martin>the problem. <v Narrator>The treaty of which Martin speaks was concluded by the United States and Mexico in <v Narrator>1944. According to the treaty, the U.S. <v Narrator>is obligated to deliver to Mexico 1.5 million acre feet of water a year
<v Narrator>from the Colorado River. <v T.R. Martin>Mexico contended that it had a deleterious effect <v T.R. Martin>almost from the very beginning. <v T.R. Martin>And in the note of which it may when, in which it made complaint about <v T.R. Martin>the quality of the water, it sought damages. <v T.R. Martin>We, of course, having denied the grounds for complaint, did not acknowledge <v T.R. Martin>our liability. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's voice to avoid crosstalk.]. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Mexico had to suffer great grave damages in <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the valley of Mexicali due to <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the actions taken on the Colorado River <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>to wash the American soil with the same <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>treaty on the waters that belong to us <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>as ?inaudible?. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>They used this water to wash the American soil
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>as water included in the treaty, they delivered to use highly salinized <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>water which made the fertile valley of Mexicali <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>very salty. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>This ?inaudible? 2 things for us, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>they simply transfered the salt from one side to the other and they did not deliver <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>usable water to us as was forseen in the treaty. When we made a claim, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the United States refused to do anything about it. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Now the situation has changed. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>It's possible that the oil that <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>came out of this stock may have polluted some American coastline <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>and perhaps it caused some damage.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>In the first place in Mexicali we had reasons but these were not turned into <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>a right. In the case of ?inaudible? and the coastline, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>there might be reasons for it, but there's also no right. <v Robert Krueger>But they also know that we're prepared to sit down and discuss these matters with Mexico. <v Robert Krueger>Mexico wants to sit down and discuss them with us on environmental questions, we're <v Robert Krueger>prepared to open them up past as well as future with the Mexican <v Robert Krueger>government. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's voice to avoid crosstalk.] <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We can solve any problem of this type in the future, that is what is desirable. But at <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the present moment it does not seem desirable, it <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>is undue and not dignified <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>to assume that we are forced to <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>do something that our American friends did not wish to do it when they had- when it was
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>their turn. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>A right, after all, is a recognition of the golden rule. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Don't ask from another something you are not willing to give up. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>It is very simple. <v Narrator>Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the State Department is virtually powerless as <v Narrator>far as compensation is concerned. <v Narrator>As a result, south Texas coast residents have had to fend for themselves. <v Paul Cunningham>We had no other alternative. We tried to pursue a course of relief that we could <v Paul Cunningham>think of. And everywhere, everywhere we turn, we ran into a brick wall. <v Paul Cunningham>And so the law lawsuit was more of an act of frustration on our part of something we <v Paul Cunningham>needed to do. Kind of like the last step. <v Paul Cunningham>This was the last remedy we knew of. <v Paul Cunningham>Not necessarily the ideal remedy. The only 1 left to us. <v Paul Cunningham>The beaches have basically been cleaned within the town of South Padre Island. <v Paul Cunningham>I think you all have seen that yourself. <v Paul Cunningham>And so that part of it is over.
<v Paul Cunningham>And now what do we do to recover the economic damages that we've received and <v Paul Cunningham>the lawsuits the only way way I know of it, because Mexico isn't up here handing out <v Paul Cunningham>checks. The federal government is not down here handing out checks. <v Paul Cunningham>The state government's not down here handing out checks. <v Paul Cunningham>The local town, of course, has suffered economic loss also because it's my business <v Paul Cunningham>is hurt, so goes the town's revenue because they collect their revenue from <v Paul Cunningham>sales tax and hotel occupancy tax. <v Paul Cunningham>In fact their major source of revenue is from tourism, not <v Paul Cunningham>from ad valorem tax. <v Paul Cunningham>And everybody has been injured as a result of it in terms of economic losses. <v Narrator>The city of South Padre Island is 1 of the several interests that have filed intent to <v Narrator>sue the companies involved with the drilling of Ixtoc 1. <v Narrator>Pemex owner and operator of the well, Tomago, the private Mexican company <v Narrator>contracted by Pemex to drill the well, and Sedco the oil rig leasing firm founded <v Narrator>by Texas Governor Bill Clements some 30 years ago. <v Narrator>But it is Sedco's actions which prompted the most controversy.
<v Narrator>Harry Hubbard, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, has stated that Sedco may be engaged <v Narrator>in a cover up. The union has indicated it will sue all 3 parties. <v Harry Hubbard>I think, and I think most other people believe that there <v Harry Hubbard>has been an effort to cover up the <v Harry Hubbard>liability of Sedco from the very beginning. <v Harry Hubbard>And I've said before, from the very beginning, the governor said, <v Harry Hubbard>oh, you know, nothing to cry about, don't cry over spilled milk and all those kind of <v Harry Hubbard>flying. Most recently, I saw a quote in the paper where he was blaming the <v Harry Hubbard>attorney general and myself, probably the state <v Harry Hubbard>Democratic Party chairman, for trying to make a political issue out of a very, <v Harry Hubbard>very serious disaster. <v Harry Hubbard>So from the time it started until today, in the words of our governor, there <v Harry Hubbard>was nothing to talk about. Now it's a very serious disaster. <v Harry Hubbard>So I think it's very obvious why did they pull the rig out and
<v Harry Hubbard>sink it, you know, so early? <v Harry Hubbard>Why did they go well, they were saying that we're not responsible, we're not liable <v Harry Hubbard>and get a limitation on liability and get a deadline on the date that anyone can sue <v Harry Hubbard>for libality. <v Narrator>Following the blowout of the Ixtoc 1, Sedco maintain that it was exempt from any <v Narrator>liability. But subsequent events throughout the summer challenged the credibility of <v Narrator>Sedco's claim. First, company officials authorized the disposal of the suspect rig <v Narrator>in the waters 200 miles east of the well site. <v Narrator>Next, doubts arose concerning the actual number of Sedco employees aboard the rig <v Narrator>at the time of the blowout. And finally, in September, Sedco asked a Houston federal <v Narrator>court to limit any liability that might be found to 300,000 dollars. <v Narrator>By asking the court for this limitation. <v Narrator>Sedco forced parties wanting to sue to file their intent to do so before the court <v Narrator>determined cutoff date of October 23rd, 1979. <v Harry Hubbard>For so far as what prompted this to do was that
<v Harry Hubbard>when Sedco went to court, and limited liability <v Harry Hubbard>when they set a deadline is when suits to be filed and then when they quietly <v Harry Hubbard>drove the equipment out to past the inter-continental shelf and sunk it <v Harry Hubbard>so there wouldn't be any evidence. It was very obvious that someone had to do something. <v Narrator>Texas Attorney General Mark White has monitored the situation very closely all summer. <v Mark White>That was a decision that was made, which at the first instance <v Mark White>was suggested that due to the fact that the rig was so terribly <v Mark White>damaged and was unseaworthy that they shut the rig. <v Mark White>Later, we discovered they pulled the rig, the unseaworthy rig, some 200 <v Mark White>miles before they sunk it and they sunk it in the very middle of the Gulf of Mexico. <v Mark White>I thought this was unusual. <v Steve Mahood>The vessel was structurally damaged. <v Steve Mahood>It was structurally unsound. <v Steve Mahood>All of the drilling equipment had been lost and had fallen overboard.
<v Steve Mahood>And the vesicle, and the vessel was apparently a total <v Steve Mahood>loss. The day after the fire occurred, however, <v Steve Mahood>our insurance underwriters and we ourselves sent surveyors and engineers and <v Steve Mahood>structural engineers down to the site, and all of these people boarded the <v Steve Mahood>unit and studied it and ran metal tests <v Steve Mahood>and discovered what equipment had been lost. <v Steve Mahood>And after 2 or 3 week study thereafter <v Steve Mahood>the conclusion was drawn by not only us but by independent parties and iour insurance <v Steve Mahood>underwriters, that the vessel had no value and it was, in fact, a derelict <v Steve Mahood>wreck. And since it had no value, we were and <v Steve Mahood>we were spending about 16,000 dollars a day with two tugboats and personnel just standing <v Steve Mahood>by. Making sure that it didn't get away or make sure that if <v Steve Mahood>in the event that a tropical storm came through, that the vessel didn't break up in some
<v Steve Mahood>fashion. We wanted to get rid of this liability. <v Steve Mahood>It was no longer an asset to anyone. It was merely a liability and a threat to <v Steve Mahood>navigation. And certainly a hazard, if it did break up, <v Steve Mahood>might run into another rig that was down there, run ashore and be very expensive <v Steve Mahood>to remove. So the best thing for all parties was to take it out into <v Steve Mahood>very deep water where it could no longer be a hazard to anyone and sink it, which is what <v Steve Mahood>we did. <v Harry Hubbard>Sedco said we're not liable. <v Harry Hubbard>In fact, they said, they said in the beginning <v Harry Hubbard>that they didn't have any employees on the rig. <v Harry Hubbard>Then they had 3. In the final analysis, they had had 7. <v Harry Hubbard>So where does negotiations begin when you can't even get a straight answer out of the <v Harry Hubbard>people that seemingly are responsible for it? <v Mark White>I think the analysis that we've done so far indicates that there is going to be <v Mark White>fault to be found at every level. It seems that there are <v Mark White>very suspicious things that have occurred.
<v Mark White>The first we learned was that there was no people <v Mark White>from the Sedco Company only drilling rig. <v Mark White>Next, we hear that there were maybe 3 or 4 there. <v Mark White>It turns into 7. <v Steve Mahood>I can probably take personal responsibility for that because back in <v Steve Mahood>early August, I was sitting in my office and received a telephone call <v Steve Mahood>from a newspaper reporter, and I've even forgotten which reporter <v Steve Mahood>it was. And he asked me how many men we had on board the <v Steve Mahood>Sedco vessel that was involved in Mexico. <v Steve Mahood>And at that time, I honestly did not know how many, but I thought there were about <v Steve Mahood>4. And I told him that there were about 4, but <v Steve Mahood>I wasn't sure exactly how many. <v Steve Mahood>And the next day he printed the story and printed it that it was exactly 4. <v Steve Mahood>And then other newspaper articles picked that up. <v Steve Mahood>And from then on, it was exactly 4 until <v Steve Mahood>very soon thereafter we had a head count and determined that it was exactly
<v Steve Mahood>7. So that's how the discrepancy began. <v Mark White>I think certainly that there are so many unanswered questions as yet as to the <v Mark White>condition of the rig, who had actual control over the rig, who was- <v Mark White>there was also this delay for apparently 2 days almost, in which they were <v Mark White>trying to make a decision on what to do about the loss of circulation <v Mark White>in the wwll. All of these things and the decisions that were ultimately made, <v Mark White>which have been disclaimed by Sedco, Sedco has <v Mark White>certain responsibilities that overshadow <v Mark White>the contractual relationships which you're trying to stand behind. <v Steve Mahood>Our people on board were basically there to maintain <v Steve Mahood>our equipment, and that was their basic charge to be sure that our equipment <v Steve Mahood>was properly maintained and taken care of. <v Steve Mahood>And certainly they were there to be available to provide
<v Steve Mahood>any assistance that might be asked of them in terms of advice or consultation. <v Steve Mahood>And that's primarily the role that they had there. <v Narrator>The city of South Padre made its intentions known shortly after Sedco asked for the <v Narrator>limitation of liability. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>With the following suit by Sedco that we could no longer sit and, and <v Kirby Lilljedahl>take no action. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>If the federal court established their liability at the 300,000 dollar level, which is <v Kirby Lilljedahl>their request. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>Obviously, our losses are much greater than that. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>So the <v Kirby Lilljedahl>?inaudible? here felt that suit was necessary to protect everybody's <v Kirby Lilljedahl>interests. We joined the suit involving, <v Kirby Lilljedahl>well, it's a county class action suit <v Kirby Lilljedahl>whereby the city represents the classes of the government, <v Kirby Lilljedahl>be it navigation district, city or whatever.
<v Kirby Lilljedahl>That was filed approximately 3 weeks ago. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>To the suit in numbers, as I can recall, was 100 million dollars. <v Narrator>On Thursday, October 18th Attorney General White announced the state of Texas is suing <v Narrator>Sedco and Tomago for 10 million dollars in damages to the Texas ecology and for cleanup <v Narrator>costs. Governor Clements' only reaction was to say, I don't think his suit is good <v Narrator>against anybody. The governor's response came as no surprise. <v Narrator>Throughout the summer, he and White have clashed repeatedly over the advisability of <v Narrator>suing the parties involved. The governor feels very strongly that the situation might be <v Narrator>best handled by federal officials. <v Governor Clements>I have consistently and constantly and forevermore said, <v Governor Clements>let's be quiet and let the State Department and the Foreign Ministry of Mexico <v Governor Clements>negotiate. And all this chest thumping and talking about <v Governor Clements>suing Mexico is not constructive and not helpful in that regard. <v Narrator>On August 9th, the governor said it would be inopportune for the state to sue Mexico
<v Narrator>over possible oil damage. The attorney general maintained that this and other remarks <v Narrator>made by the governor spoiled chances for out-of-court negotiations with Mexico. <v Narrator>In short, he said, the governor had taken away the state's trump card. <v Mark White>I think that was the whole reason for my request that <v Mark White>he not continually repeat to officials in Mexico with Texas would not <v Mark White>sue over an oil spill. <v Mark White>This is simply not the way to engage in negotiations over <v Mark White>the payment of damages. <v Mark White>I felt it was unfair both to the public in Mexico as well as to the people of <v Mark White>Texas in the sense that misleading information should not be <v Mark White>issued through an official source. <v Mark White>I think it directly resulted in positions that would not <v Mark White>have been taken by Mexico. <v Governor Clements>Let me make one thing absolutely clear to you and everybody else. <v Governor Clements>By the Texas Constitution, I am the chief executive <v Governor Clements>officer of the state of Texas, and the attorney general is my councilor
<v Governor Clements>or my lawyer, so to speak. <v Governor Clements>I have been in the business environment now for some 4 years as chief executive officer <v Governor Clements>of an enterprise, and I reserve <v Governor Clements>the right, as chief executive officer to express my opinion on any <v Governor Clements>subject that I deem appropriate for me to have an opinion. <v Governor Clements>And I also reserve the right to take the advice or not take the advice <v Governor Clements>of my lawyer. That's what a lawyer as far as to give advice, the chief executive officer <v Governor Clements>is in his office to make decisions. <v Governor Clements>And so when I decide that I will either accept his opinions and agree <v Governor Clements>with him, I'll say so. And when I don't accept his opinions and his advice <v Governor Clements>and I don't agree with him, I reserve the right to say so. <v Governor Clements>So, you know, I'm not going to be in default on that to him or anybody else. <v Narrator>Many people speculate that the governor's reaction is motivated in part by his <v Narrator>connections with Sedco. Before his election the governor was president and chief <v Narrator>executive officer of the drilling firm.
<v Narrator>The company is currently headed by his son, Gil. <v Governor Clements>When I divorced myself from the company that I founded <v Governor Clements>actually over 30 years ago and had always been the chief executive <v Governor Clements>of that company, when I left the company and put my stock in <v Governor Clements>a blind trust and resigned, I did it totally. <v Governor Clements>And it's not the sort of thing that you can dip in and dip out of. <v Governor Clements>People don't seem to understand that. It's kind of like a surgeon who'd get halfway <v Governor Clements>through an operation and leave go off to play golf or do something else. <v Governor Clements>Then come back a week later and say, well, I will take up the operation again. <v Governor Clements>You can't do that. And so I don't have anything to do with the operation of the company. <v Governor Clements>I don't know what they're doing and I don't know how they do it. <v Governor Clements>And I really am not interested. <v Steve Mahood>After Governor Clements had made his trip to the South Texas <v Steve Mahood>coast to investigate personally, he came to the office here 1 day <v Steve Mahood>he happened to be in town and came by here. And I was in a meeting with him with 3 or 4
<v Steve Mahood>other people for about 10 or 15 minutes. <v Steve Mahood>And most of that time was really spent talking about what we understood to be Pemex's <v Steve Mahood>plans to put the funnel or the cone over the well to stop <v Steve Mahood>the flow of the oil onto the surface of the ocean. <v Steve Mahood>But that was the only meeting I've had with him in connection with this matter. <v Narrator>Perhaps the greatest lesson from this experience is that the United States and Mexico <v Narrator>need to formulate an agreement to prevent future misunderstandings. <v Narrator>Offshore blowouts are nothing new. Mexico has indicated it intends to pursue a rigorous <v Narrator>hydrocarbon development program in the Bay of Campeche. <v Narrator>The probability of future spills in southern Gulf waters will increase proportionately. <v Offcamera scientist>There's no nation absolutely capable or capable of cleaning up <v Offcamera scientist>absolutely all oil spilled on the high seas in the quantities that we saw in the Gulf of <v Offcamera scientist>Mexico. <v Ken Biglane>We encourage the use of the planning mechanism <v Ken Biglane>to address large and impactive spills
<v Ken Biglane>with adjoining nations, again, it reinforces our belief that a planning mode is <v Ken Biglane>most essential if one is to make any sense at all out of protecting the environment <v Ken Biglane>following one of these large, large spills. <v Robert Krueger>It's my understanding that we first approached Mexico several years ago suggesting that <v Robert Krueger>2 countries might try to work out a treaty in doing something of this kind. <v Robert Krueger>We presented language to the Mexican government, I'm told, in April of 1978 <v Robert Krueger>as initial language that we would propose for a treaty between the 2 countries. <v Robert Krueger>We have not, to my knowledge, as yet heard from them. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's words as to avoid crosstalk.] <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We are willing to agree in future cases in order that <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>both countries may be obligated to take preventive <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>measures <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>to correct damage whenever this should occur <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>and to have systems which would
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>formalize and ways of making the clean. <v Narrator>The amount of Mexico's oil reserves staggering. <v Narrator>Figures for proven, probable, and potential reserves are constantly on the increase. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>Our last expression of reserves was made by Mr. López Portillo in his <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>presidential speech of the 1st of September of this year. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>And we have 45 billion of <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>proven reserves. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>45 billion of probable reserves and <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>200 million of- 200 billion of potential <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>reserves. <v Narrator>Jorge Diaz Serrano is director general of Pemex. <v Narrator>He explains how Mexico's oil development prospects have changed since December 1976. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>What we had in those days was a tremendous expansion program <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>from 6 billion we were expanding <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>our reserves to 11 billion in that particular month, and we
<v Jorge Diaz Serrano>announced that we would want to reach a production from 900,000 <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>barrels per day, that we had to 2 million and a quarter, 2 <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>million, 250,000 barrels per day in 19 hundred and 82. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>We started our program. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>We found the geology and the discoveries more <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>to abundant or more prolific. <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>And we decided to expand further our program by <v Jorge Diaz Serrano>bringing the production of 19 hundred and 82 to 19 hundred and 80. <v Narrator>While Mexico's oil industry has progressed more swiftly than perhaps even he had <v Narrator>imagined, president López Portillo has been careful not to minimize his country's other <v Narrator>resources. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's audio as to prevent crosstalk.] <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We don't want to turn into the ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>total of our development. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>But to use it as a sort of trigger for
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>our development. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Fortunately the country has sufficient conditions that lead us to think that this is <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>possible. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We have other ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We have an interesting market. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We have a population that has well-trained sectors to face these- And <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>we have confidence in ourselves. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>The country improve previous time had an acceptable rate of <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>development based <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>on our sufficiency. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>This decreased in the years since '73 and '74 when we were forced to <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>import.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>I believe we have sufficient conditions in order to make it possible to organize, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>starting with petroleum, but not to depend on it. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>And to think early about a substitute of the new source of energy, which is <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>not renewable. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We believe that this is as good for the country as it is for our humanity. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We are a frontier generation. We <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>are now between 2 systems of energy. ?inaudible?must <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>be very much aware so <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>as not to leave an unresolvable problem for our children. <v Narrator>The average Mexican citizen has heard much about the benefits oil can bring, but only a <v Narrator>small percentage of the population has actually witnessed any immediate effects. <v Narrator>President López Portillo is determined to stabilize his country's soaring rate of <v Narrator>inflation. The president is quick to recognize that too much oil related revenue will
<v Narrator>only worsen his country's economy. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's audio as to avoid crosstalk]. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We believe that it isn't ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>The reserves that must ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Exploitation within a national system but <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the capacity of the country to invest and to <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>exploit oil. And once the <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>investment has been made, we <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>will only export as much as the country's economy <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>is able to digest. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>So as not to bring about the worst sort of inflation <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>due to financial congestion <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>which would force a country that has such serious ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>as ours to ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>paradoxically have to export capital.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>?inaudible? our foreign exploitation to our economic <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>stability. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>For this reason we are establishing what we call an exploitation platform. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>At the beginning of the regime, we establish for ourselves <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>to reach a certain level or platform by 1982. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Of around 2 million, 200,000 barrels a day. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>This might increase a little. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>This goal will be achieved by 1980. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>And when we arrive there, then <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>with view to the present econ- to the economy we have then, we will see what the next <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>step shall be. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We have taken great care of our economy in the world context.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator> There has been a total change. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>It is not the reserves that need the exploitation <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>but the nat- but the desirability that come- that is due <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>to the economy of the country. <v Narrator>Because of its abundant oil and natural gas supplies, the Mexican government's <v Narrator>responsibilities extend beyond its own borders, developed and under-developed countries <v Narrator>now up to Mexico for help in solving their energy needs. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's audio as to avoid crosstalk.]. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We have reason to propose at the United Nations, the desirability of the world plan for <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>fuel. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Where, where the needs of all countries are considered, not only of the large <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>countries. The big consumers. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>All need energy <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>but we do not want to have deformations of this type which would only accelerate
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>disorder. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>If we are going to consider the needs of others, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>it would be reasonable to consider them within a certain ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>and not ?inaudible? increase the disorder. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We understand very well the need that the United States has <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>for fuel. We also understand the needs <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>of Nicaragua and Costa Rica which are small countries <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>in a very unfavorable comparative position. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>We would like all of humanity to understand the need of <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>ordering the passage of going from one full <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>time period to another.
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>Ordering and rationalizing not only the exploration, but exploitation, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>the distribution, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>and the consumption of the present day sources of energy, basically, oil. <v Narrator>President López Portillo also recognizes that the United States is aware of Mexico's <v Narrator>burgeoning influence. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator audio as to avoid crosstalk.] <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>As the conditions <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>because Mexico's position has changed. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>And the fact is that it <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>now has something that's substantially interesting to the United States. <v Robert Krueger>Well, I think that we have a changing relationship in our <v Robert Krueger>relations with Mexico. And that relationship is changing in part because Mexico is <v Robert Krueger>now the 11th largest country in the world. <v Robert Krueger>Mexico is taking an increasingly important role internationally <v Robert Krueger>or certainly in this hemisphere, but actually throughout the world.
<v Robert Krueger>And during a time of a changing relationship, there are sometimes some growing pains in <v Robert Krueger>that relationship. I think it is to U.S. <v Robert Krueger>Advantage to have strong neighbors. <v Robert Krueger>And I think that the increased strength in Mexico is something we ought to be pleased <v Robert Krueger>about. It doesn't necessarily make it easier in a time of transition, but I think <v Robert Krueger>it's important for the future. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco>[Speaking Spanish, using translator's audio as to avoid crosstalk]. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>What I would like to say is that we would very much like to think we would <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>have a more balanced relationship with the United States. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>So that we could solve a number of problems we have <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>which are expressed differently in accordance with the time <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>that they are addressed. I would definitely like to be less dependent on the United <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>States. I think the United States, perhaps, <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>would like to depend less on OPEC. Once the country,
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>depends more on itself, we will be in a better situation. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>But I believe we can ?inaudible? the relationship with the United States as <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>being a respectful balance and <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>a broadening of our relationship with the rest of the world <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>always recognizing the influence of geography. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>There is a geographic logic <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>it is evident that between 2 neighbors with a borderline of 2000 <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>kilometers and complementary economies, the formula <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>must be found to ?inaudible? <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>so as to have justice without exploitation. <v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>That we would go from 1 system to another one which is broader and more understanding,
<v José López Portillo y Pacheco's translator>more comprehensive. <v Narrator>It should be noted that throughout the entire blowout incident, natural gas sales <v Narrator>negotiations between Mexico and the United States went on without interruption. <v Narrator>The 2 countries concluded a deal this past September. <v Narrator>The first supplies of Mexican gas should reach the United States on January 1st of 1980. <v Narrator>As far as the blowout is concerned, oil continues to spew from the ruptured well. <v Narrator>The total volume of the spill is said to be near 2.5 million barrels. <v Narrator>But Pemex officials may have found a way to substantially reduce the flow. <v Narrator>On the morning of Monday, October 15th, a massive steel cone was placed over the well. <v Narrator>The cone, or sombrero, as it's called, weighs 310 tons and is <v Narrator>35 by 65 feet in size. The sombrero collects crude oil, gas and seawater. <v Narrator>The mixture is fed into a triangular surface platform equipped with a separator to burn <v Narrator>off the gas. The oil and seawater are then separated in the crude is pumped into waiting <v Narrator>tankers. A spokesman for Pemex says 85 percent of the gas should <v Narrator>be controlled by the cone, but the other 15 percent could continue to spill into the
<v Narrator>ocean. The sombrero is, of course, only an intermediate solution. <v Narrator>Work is continuing on the two relief wells. <v Narrator>Crews are still feeding lead and iron balls into Ixtoc one. <v Narrator>If and when these balls stem, the flow of the well could then be sealed with cement. <v Narrator>1 final footnote. Court officials expect more suits to be filed before the October <v Narrator>23rd deadline. Joe Jamaah, lawyer for a group of commercial fishermen, estimates that <v Narrator>court proceedings could start by the end of 1980. <v Narrator>The jeopardy posed by the runaway well has all but past, but its repercussions will be <v Narrator>heard well into 1980 and maybe beyond. <v Narrator>I'm Susan Wright, good night. <v Kirby Lilljedahl>Environment, in a sense, is what we sell in <v Kirby Lilljedahl>order to, to <v Kirby Lilljedahl>have a place for the people of Texas to come to for vacation and to <v Kirby Lilljedahl>enjoy the beach. We've got to keep the environment in such a manner that this
<v Kirby Lilljedahl>is inviting to the people of Texas and to the Midwest as a matter of fact. <v Paul Cunningham>And this becomes a very- I'm worried right now about the amount of all is out there still <v Paul Cunningham>floating around somewhere. <v Paul Cunningham>Nobody yet told me for sure where it is or what happened to it. <v Paul Cunningham>I'm concerned that it may come in the next storm surge. <v Ralph Thompson>We locally, there was nothing we could do but sit and wait. <v Ralph Thompson>And that added to the frustration, knowing that it was out there, not knowing if or <v Ralph Thompson>when it was coming, how severe it would be. <v Ralph Thompson>And I think that's still the mood here to a great extent, because the well has not <v Ralph Thompson>at this point in time been capped. <v Ralph Thompson>If it continues to spill, who knows what might happen next spring when <v Ralph Thompson>conditions change, the currents and the winds could conceivably bring that <v Ralph Thompson>oil back. <v Unnamed shrimper>We're worried about the nursery grounds, and so far <v Unnamed shrimper>it looks like they've been protected. <v Unnamed shrimper>We're having- our attitude right now is to wait and see <v Unnamed shrimper>what happens when our shrimp starts spawn later on this year or early
<v Unnamed shrimper>next year. And if there's oil all out there, they will kill them before they come into <v Unnamed shrimper>the nursery areas. <v Jimmy Halliburton>I was saddened because I moved to the coast of South Padre Island because <v Jimmy Halliburton>of the beautiful beaches. And it was a horrible sight to <v Jimmy Halliburton>see a beach that looked like it was blacktop. <v Jimmy Halliburton>I wasn't really mad. <v Jimmy Halliburton>I guess in a way I was, but I really didn't have any anger. <v Jimmy Halliburton>It was just a situation that we wish it hadn't happened but it happened. <v Bob Whistler>This idea that- the thought of what? <v Bob Whistler>What are we gonna do? <v Bob Whistler>And not knowing just exactly what to do and not knowing how it was going to <v Bob Whistler>affect and how long that was going to affect these sort of things is what I guess <v Bob Whistler>bothered me.
Blowout: A Special Report
Producing Organization
KUHT-TV (Television station : Houston, Tex.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-526-vm42r3q86b).
Program Description
"BLOWOUT: A SPECIAL REPORT examines the immediate and long range ramifications of the largest oil spill ever recorded. Through interviews with Mexican, U.S. and Texas officials, the program assesses the damage caused by the spill and the resulting efforts to fix liability. The program also deals with similar [environmental disasters] caused by the U.S. that have affected Mexico, and with the solutions applied in these similar situations. Finally, in an exclusive interview with Mexican President Lopez Portillo, the program examines how Mexico is dealing with its new found oil wealth and how the U.S. fits into Mexico's hydrocarbon distribution plan for the future. "The documentary includes exclusive interviews with President Lopez Portillo, General Jorge Serrano, Director General of PEMEX, the Mexican government's oil monopoly, Ambassador at Large Robert Krueger, and the co-chairmen of the National Response Team in Washington. Also, there are interviews with tourist, fishing, and local government officials in South Texas, the on-scene cleanup coordinator, the governor of Texas, the Texas State Attorney General and the Vice-President of SEDCO (the owner of the drilling rig)."--1979 Peabody Awards entry form. SEDCO was drilling the exploratory well Ixtoc in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout of this well on 3 June 1979, caused a catastrophic oil spill. The documentary focuses on the blowout of the SEDCO well Ixtoc in the Gulf of Mexico on June 3, 1979 and the massive oil spill that followed. The program examines the causes and immediate effects of the blowout, including clean up and environmental protection efforts. Some immediate effects covered include the impact on tourism and local businesses on South Padre Island and the lack of aid from the federal government. Government officials talk about the energy deal negotiations with Mexico, and the program covers similar issues from the past that have affected U.S. relations with Mexico, like the quality of water from the Colorado River being delivered to Mexico. Experts discuss the attempted cover-up of SEDCO's liability for the blowout, and a SEDCO official explains the company's actions. The program covers legal action that Texas is taking against Mexico and the oil companies and efforts to negotiate agreements for how to deal with similar disasters in the future. Finally, Mexican officials discuss Mexico's newfound oil wealth and how it will affect planned development of the country.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Anchor: Hamill, Bart
Assistant Producer: Braud, Wallace J.
Associate Producer: August, Michael J.
Director: Caffrey, Kevin
Guest: Kreuger, Robert
Guest: Ray, Skipper
Guest: Clements, William P., Jr.
Guest: Portillo, Jose Lopez
Guest: Cunningham, Paul
Guest: White, Mark
Guest: Serrano, Jorge Diaz
Guest: Halliburton, Jimmy
Guest: Biglane, Ken
Guest: Martin, T.R.
Guest: Corbett, Charles
Guest: Paskewich, Jim
Guest: Lilljedahl, Kirby
Guest: Whistler, Bob
Guest: Hubbard, Harry
Guest: Thompson, Ralph
Guest: Mahood, Steve
Narrator: Wright, Susan
Producer: Natanson, George
Producer: Mampre, Virginia E.
Producer: Caffrey, Kevin
Producing Organization: KUHT-TV (Television station : Houston, Tex.)
Writer: Caffrey, Kevin
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-6b3a18c5169 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:59:59
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Blowout: A Special Report,” 1979-10-21, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Blowout: A Special Report.” 1979-10-21. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Blowout: A Special Report. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from