Document Type

Student Article


In the last two decades, the search for untapped oil reserves led to many innovations in oil and gas exploration. As new technology continues to open new horizons, oil companies are increasingly able to drill at deeper ocean depths to tap offshore reserves. Offshore drilling poses problems where oil reserves hundreds of miles from shore cross an international boundary line. While American courts typically apply the rule of capture to determine who owns the subsoil resources, international law requires countries to work together to maximize the efficient, safe extraction of the resources. In 2012, the United States and Mexico drafted a treaty that would govern the unitization of an offshore transboundary oil field. Today, Mexico’s energy laws are very different. A new administration threatens to unravel recent liberal reforms, and the United States has become more hostile to Chinese investment in the region. With these political challenges in mind, the treaty is very vague on critical issues, particularly its dispute resolution clause, which the United States and Mexico must strengthen if the treaty is to be effective and shared transboundary resources develop efficiently to the benefit of both nations. The treaty creates a body called the Joint Commission to create much of the treaty’s policy and procedure. In order to maintain good relations and a healthy energy sector, the Joint Commission needs to create subsidiary committees subject to its control and comprised of various experts to ensure the treaty is implemented impartially.



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