Agreement Opens 1.5 Million Gulf Acres to Drilling

The agreement "establishes a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Feb. 20.

A major agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments will open 1.5 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas development upon agreed-upon safety protocols, and top U.S. and Mexican officials were present in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the signing.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mexican Minister of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa, and Mexican Minister of Energy Jordy Herrera to sign the Transboundary Agreement, which removes uncertainties regarding development of transboundary resources in the resource-rich Gulf of Mexico," according to DOI, which said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates the area contains as much as 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

U.S. offshore oil and gas companies and Mexico's Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) will develop the resources together. "The Obama administration is committed to the responsible expansion of domestic energy production," Salazar said. "This agreement makes available promising areas in the resource-rich Gulf of Mexico and establishes a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely."

Calderon and President Obama agreed in May 2010 to reach an agreement on jointly developing reservoirs that were determined to be transboundary. Since then, representatives from the U.S. Department of State, Interior, and Mexico's Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Energy have been negotiating an agreement.

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