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NEW ORLEANS -- BP's massive oil spill became the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday based on the highest of the federal government's estimates, an ominous record that underscores the oil giant's dire need to halt the gusher. The oil that's spewed for two and a half months from a blown-out well a mile under the sea hit the 140.6 million gallon mark, eclipsing the record-setting, 140-million-gallon Ixtoc I spill off Mexico's coast from 1979 to 1980. Even by the lower end of the government's estimates, at least 71.7 million gallons are in the Gulf.