LOS CABOS, Mexico, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A transboundary maritime agreement between the United States and Mexico provides access to as much as 172 million barrels of oil, the U.S. government said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led a delegation to meet with officials in Mexico. Officials signed an agreement on the exploration of oil and natural gas along a shared maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico.
The agreement sets up a framework for U.S. energy companies to work with Mexico's state-run Petroleos Mexicanos to develop transboundary reserves that were off-limits under the terms of previous treaty agreements.
"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," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
The bilateral agreement calls for a joint inspection team to ensure compliance with applicable safety and environmental laws. It follows a 2010 commitment from the U.S. and Mexican governments to work in oil and natural gas developments along the shared maritime border.
The Interior Department estimates the transboundary region in the Gulf of Mexico holds as much as 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Mexico in 2010 exported 1.3 million barrels of oil per day to the United States, placing it among the top three suppliers of petroleum to the U.S. market.