Regional cooperation is a critical component for the shared environmental objectives on energy work in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. and Mexican officials said.
The Mexican Agency for Safety, Energy and the Environment and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management signed a letter of intent to work more closely on environmental matters related to hydrocarbon activity in shared maritime waters.
"It is critical that we work together to ensure the highest levels of environmental protection on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border, treating our shared Gulf of Mexico as one ecosystem," BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement.
In 2012, both sides signed in Mexico a trans-boundary agreement that eliminated uncertainties on the development of trans-boundary offshore resources. Nearly 1.5 million acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf were made more accessible for exploration and production activities. The BOEM at the time indicated the area could have up to 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Mexican state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos announced two recent oil discoveries in the deep waters of its territory of the Gulf of Mexico and four in the shallow waters, which could combine for a potential production rate of around 22,000 barrels of oil per day. All told, the discoveries contain, at the high end, an estimated 200 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Both sides have a long history of cooperating in the shared waters. On its own last week, the U.S. government said it was recommending that energy companies conducting seismic surveys to get a better understanding of the reserve potential keep observers on hand to monitor for protected species.
Environmental advocacy groups have said the sound from seismic research interferes with normal communication patterns those species use.
From its position, ASEA works to provide a cost-effective and clear regulatory regime for offshore energy work in a way that preserves the environment. The BOEM, for its part, said its goal is to manage energy resources in an environmentally responsible way.
"Formal cooperation between ASEA and BOEM is an important step towards creating a familiar regulatory framework in the Gulf of Mexico, which is essential to the successful implementation of Mexico's Energy Reform," ASEA Executive Director Carlos de Regules said.