Senate passes gulf transboundary bill, forwards to House

The US Senate approved legislation authorizing the US Department of Interior to implement terms of the Gulf of Mexico transboundary agreement with Mexico on Oct. 12. The bill, S. 812, headed for the US House of Representatives, which passed its own legislative version on June 26 as part of a larger package.

A joint conference appeared likely since the Senate’s bill did not include a provision in the House’s original version, HR 1613, which would exempt US producers working under a cross-border unitization agreement or in a joint venture in Mexican waters from the 1934 Securities Exchange Act’s resources extraction reporting requirement.

The Senate’s bill effectively ratified the treaty the Mexican and US governments signed in 2012, leaving only this detail of its implementation for a joint Senate-House conference to settle. An immediate benefit would be greater interest by US producers in deepwater leases along the boundary where a moratorium has been in place, the Obama administration has said.

“Today’s ratification of the transboundary agreement establishes important ground rules for developing the oil and gas reservoirs along our shared maritime border with Mexico. That in itself is an important step in improving our energy security,” said Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s ranking minority member who cosponsored S. 812 with Chairman Ronald L. Wyden (D-Ore.).

“But in addition to opening up nearly 1.5 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf, it also ensures that any exploration along our maritime border adheres to the highest degree of safety and environmental standards,” Murkowski said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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