(LOS CABOS, Mexico) — The United States and Mexico have agreed to share oil and natural gas deposits located along the maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. The decision will mandate joint development of undersea reservoirs that may straddle both sides of the boundary.
The agreement was signed on Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico’s Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa in Los Cabos, Mexico. Clinton and her counterpart were in the resort town for two days of informal talks ahead of a G20 summit to occur there in June. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mexican President Felipe Calderon were also in attendance for the ceremony.
Under the deal, American and Mexican energy companies can partner to jointly tap cross-border reservoirs and the two governments will share in oversight of the sites regarding compliance with environmental and safety standards. It also opens up an area that was previously off limits to both nations due to a moratorium already set to expire in 2014, according to an Interior Department statement.
Clinton says it will ensure, “safe, efficient, responsible exploration of the oil and gas reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico” and end disputes, “over who should do the extraction and how much they should extract.”
Calderon says the shared jurisdiction should help alleviate fear among Mexicans of U.S. energy companies exploiting their natural resources.
The Obama administration says the U.S. Outer-Continental Shelf contains as much as 172 million barrels of oil. The deal is the result of talks in 2010 between Presidents Obama and Calderon about sharing profits and environmental responsibilities along the maritime border.
The move comes as oil prices hit $105 a barrel on Monday — a nine-month high — after Iran announced it had halted crude exports to Britain and France. Prices at the pump nationwide, in turn, are expected to spike.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sophia Saifi, CNN Newswire
Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN