Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Talks start on trans-border oil and gas in the Gulf

Mexico and the United States apparently have begun to address the question of trans-border oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. Jeffrey Davidow, director of the Summit of the Americas, mentioned talks on the matter during an Apr. 17 briefing with White House reporters.

“Those talks have begun and we’re looking at [the issue]. And I think [Mexico President Felipe Calderon] mentioned that in the press conference. That’s ongoing,” Davidow said.

Officials from the US Departments of Energy and State were not very helpful when I asked them about the discussions. Each said that the other department probably was taking the lead in representing the US. They also said they couldn’t comment on the nature of the talks while they were under way.

A DOE source confirmed that Georgina Kessel, Mexico’s energy minister, met with US Energy Secretary Steven Chu while she was visiting Washington on Apr. 6. DOE did not issue any statements about the meeting between the two countries’ top energy officials, however.

Kessel has said that resolving the question of trans-border oil and gas in the Gulf is one of her top priorities. The issue has intensified as Mexico’s onshore and near-shore oil fields are depleted. Petroleos Mexicanos, the national oil company, is looking for ways to match US efforts to find and produce ultra-deepwater resources.

Some government officials in Mexico are concerned that companies operating in US waters could use directional drilling to reach across the border and produce those resources. This would do more than filch some oil; national ownership and control of its petroleum assets is part of Mexico’s constitution.

Chu and other Obama administration officials preferred to emphasize clean energy alliances during the Summit of the Americas. But it looks as if Kessel successfully conveyed the urgency of resolving a more immediate energy issue during her Washington visit earlier in the month


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