Treaty to Resolve Pending Boundary Differences and Maintain the Rio Grande and Colorado River as the International Boundary (signed November 23, 1970; effective April 18, 1972)
- Referred to as the 1970 Treaty
- Determined the maritime boundaries between the parties on the basis of equidistance for a distance of twelve nautical miles seaward from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured in the Gulf of Mexico
- Referred to as the 1978 Treaty on Maritime Boundaries
- Determined the maritime boundaries between the parties on the basis of equidistance for a distance between twelve and two hundred nautical miles seaward from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured in the Gulf of Mexico
Presidential Proclamation No. 5030 - Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States of America (signed March 10, 1983)
- Proclaimed the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the United States within an Exclusive Economic Zone extending a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of territorial sea is measured and that, within the Exclusive Economic Zone, the United States has, to the extent permitted by international law,
- sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, both living and non-living, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds, and
- jurisdiction with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, and installations and structures having economic purposes, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican States on the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf in the Western Gulf of Mexico beyond 200 Nautical Miles (signed June 9, 2000)
- Referred to as the Western Gap Treaty
- Established, in accordance with international law, the U.S. extended continental shelf boundary between the United States and the United Mexican States in the Western Gulf of Mexico beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured
- The Western Gap encompassed 4.2 million acres; the U.S. portion includes about 1.5 million acres north of the maritime boundary
- Established a 1.4 nautical mile buffer along a 135-mile distance within the Western Gap; under Article IV, Paragraph 1, due to the possible existence of petroleum or natural gas reservoirs that may extend across the continental shelf boundary, the parties were prohibited, for a period of 10 years following the Treaty’s entry into force, from authorizing or permitting petroleum or natural gas drilling or exploitation of the continental shelf within 1.4 nautical miles on either side of the boundary in the Western Gap. During negotiations on an agreement governing transboundary hydrocarbon reservoirs, the United States and Mexico, through the exchange of diplomatic notes June 22, 2010, extended that 10-year period for an additional three years until January 17, 2014.
- Approved by the Mexican Senate in April 2012
- A Congressional-Executive Agreement approved by the United States Congress as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-67 (the Budget Act,) which the President signed on December 26, 2013. The Budget Act amended the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq.) by adding, at the end, Section 32, Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements. Section 32(c) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to take actions as necessary to implement the terms of the Agreement.
- The U.S. and Mexico exchanged diplomatic notes May 19, 2014, such that the Agreement entered into force on July 18, 2014, sixty days following such exchange per the terms of the Agreement.
- Provided that the prohibition on exploration and development in the 1.4 nautical mile buffer under the Western Gap Treaty would automatically terminate upon the Agreement’s entry into force. By exchange of diplomatic notes January 17, 2014, the United States and Mexico extended the prohibition on exploration and development in the 1.4-nautical mile buffer until July 17, 2014, or until the day the Agreement enters into force, whichever is sooner. Although the Agreement entered into force on July 18, 2014, the 1.4 nautical mile buffer terminated a day earlier, on July 17, 2014, pursuant to the terms of the January 17th extension.
The Department of the Interior and the Bureaus initiated two actions to implement the Agreement
- The Secretary issued Secretarial Order No. 3333, effective June 3, 2014, that 1) designated the Department of the Interior as the Executive Agency to carry out the functions of the Agreement; 2) delegated to BOEM and BSEE the authority to carry out the Executive Agency's duties under the Agreement; and 3) required BOEM and BSEE to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) detailing how, separately and in cooperation with each other, they will fulfill their responsibilities under the Agreement. The Order also appointed the Deputy Secretary as the Representative, and the Assistant Secretary - Land and Minerals Management as the Alternate Representative, to the Joint Commission established under the Agreement.
- On July 17, 2014, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement executed the Memorandum of Understanding to Carry Out Assigned Responsibilities Under the Agreement Between the United States of America and the United Mexican States Concerning Transboundary Hydrocarbon Reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations, by diplomatic notes December 2, 2014, designated María de Lourdes Melgar Palacios, Undersecretary of Hydrocarbons of the Secretariat of Energy, as the Representative, and Marco Antonio Cota Valdivia, General Director of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Exploitation of the Secretariat of Energy, as the Alternate Representative, to the Joint Commission.
- Agreement Implications
- Allow U.S. lessees and Pemex (or other international licensees) to enter into cooperative arrangements (primarily unitization agreements) for joint exploration and development of transboundary reservoirs; previously, the only avenue for producing hydrocarbon resources in a transboundary reservoir was through unilateral exploration and development from one side of the maritime boundary under the common law Rule of Capture.
- The 1.4 nautical mile moratorium terminated meaning that the 1.4 nautical mile area on the U.S. side north of the boundary within the Western Gap, containing 158,584 acres, became accessible for exploration and production activities.
- Protects the environment by providing for unitization (which means fewer wells and lower environmental risk); harmonizing existing environmental rules and regulations; and a joint inspection regime, which includes the right of either party to temporarily shut down the operations of the other if there is a significant threat to life or property.