The Mexican and U.S. governments signed an agreement Monday for the exploration and development of oil and gas reservoirs that straddle the countries' maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico.

The agreement "ensures that each country can develop its corresponding oil and natural gas deposits in the trans-border area of the Gulf of Mexico," Mexican President Felipe Calderon said during the signing ceremony.
The agreement will allow the joint, safe, equitable development, of any cross-border deposit "with full respect for the environment," Calderon said at the ceremony in the Pacific resort of Los Cabos, which is hosting a G-20 meeting of 18 foreign ministers.

Both nations also will be able to "more efficiently (develop) energy resources" that have been "underutilized until now precisely due to restrictions on developing (cross-border reservoirs)," Calderon said.
Mexico's Senate still must give the green light for the agreement, which was signed by Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a ceremony presided over by Calderon.

"These reservoirs could hold considerable reserves ... but they don't necessarily stop neatly at our maritime boundary. This could lead to disputes," Clinton said. "The agreement we are signing today will help prevent such disputes."

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Calderon said the pact will "maximize the recovery of hydrocarbons, strengthen both countries' energy security" and increase the amount of revenues contributed to Mexican coffers by state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, which will acquire experience and cutting-edge technology by operating projects with "the world's most advanced companies."

He said the accord was negotiated "under the principle of protecting each country's sovereign rights to its natural resources" and he stressed that "Mexico's petroleum wealth is and will continue to belong to Mexicans."

Mexico's foreign and energy ministries, meanwhile, said in a statement that this "historic" instrument "will generate the necessary legal certainty for the long-term development of resources that may be found in that area" for the benefit of both countries.

They said the negotiations unfolded in both capitals and that Mexican authorities were in contact with a multiparty group of senators during the process.

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Also participating in the signing ceremony as honorary witnesses were Mexican Energy Secretary Jordy Herrera and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Pemex, the world's third-largest oil producer, is the largest contributor to Mexico's federal budget and one of the only oil companies worldwide that handles all aspects of the productive chain, from exploration to distribution and the marketing of end products.

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