US-Mexico agreement likely headed for conference committee

October 15, 2013

The US Senate bill ratifying the US-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement, S. 812, is reportedly on its way to a conference committee.

The Senate's version of the bill, passed October 12, differed from that of the US House of Representative’s version. The House ratified the agreement but exempted US companies engaged in joint exploration agreements with Pemex from complying with Dodd-Frank disclosures. Senate’s version also ratifies the deal, but without the financial disclosure exemption.

The US-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement that would allow for joint oil and gas exploration between the two countries within the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

According to Committee on Energy & Natural Resources chairman Ron Wyden’s opening statement, the bill renders nearly 1.5 million acres of the Western Gap of the Outer Continental Shelf available for joint development by US and Mexican Companies. S. 182 has now been sent to the House of Representatives.

The bill looks overall to enhance energy security and by encouraging responsibility in developing deepwater oil and gas reservoirs crossing the international maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In addition, Mexican national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) would be open to joint development with US leaseholders, whereas it is currently unable to do so. It also requires joint safety inspection teams and calls for the adoption of common safety and environmental standards, Wyden said in his opening statement.

The Bureau of Ocean management (BOEM) estimates that up to 172 MMBo and 304 Bcf of natural gas could be extracted from those areas covered in the agreement.

The snag in passing the gulf transboundary bill, as it is also known, has previously been the Senate. The House of Representatives passed its legislative version on June 26 as part of an approved package.

If the House does not accept S. 182, a conference committee will be held to rectify the differences.

Former Secretary Clinton and former Mexican Foreign Secretary Espinosa signed the agreement in February of 2012, and the Mexican government ratified the bill on April 12, 2012 and signed it into law.  

“It is the hope that, through this Agreement and the proposed energy reforms in Mexico, that the energy revolution the US is currently experiencing can extend throughout the Western Hemisphere,” Wyden said. This would make our region more competitive and less relant on politically tumultuous states for obtaining energy.”

Image of Committee on Energy & Natural Resources chairman Ron Wyden, D-OR, courtesy Ron Wyden.



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