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Offshore hydrocarbon resources have been developed for many decades, and with technology improvements, many fields which were once impossible to develop, are now economically and technologically feasible. This has led to a growing difficulty in determining the legislative and regulatory framework for resources that straddle the recognized borders between two states. In this paper, we examine a successful framework agreement governing the transboundary resources between the United Kingdom (“U.K.”) and Norway in the North Sea, and the agreement between the United States and Mexico governing the Gulf of Mexico. Following the 2013 Energy Reform, the Mexican energy sector has been revitalized, leading to greater exploration, development, and production than ever before. This means that in the near future transboundary resources may be licensed for production, bringing the issues highlighted in this paper to the attention of multiple government and international entities. This paper seeks to recommend improvements to the transboundary framework in the Gulf of Mexico based on the successful framework agreement utilized in the North Sea.

This paper begins by introducing international law for offshore resources in Part II. Part III discusses the offshore regulatory regimes in the U.K. and Norway, analyzing how the two states have successfully used bilateral agreements to facilitate cooperation regarding effective exploitation and apportionment of costs from cross-boundary offshore oil and gas projects in the North Sea. Part IV discusses the offshore regulatory regimes in the United States and Mexico and analyzes the current transboundary agreement in place for the Gulf of Mexico. Part V compares the transboundary agreement governing the North Sea and the same governing the Gulf of Mexico. We highlight the major differences in the agreements and suggest changes to the Gulf of Mexico agreement based on the successful North Sea agreement. Finally, this paper concludes and provides key policy recommendations to improve the rules and regulations surrounding the exploitation of transboundary hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Safe and Efficient Development of Offshore Transboundary Hydrocarbons


Global Law and Policy Study


Texas A&M University School of Law Program in Energy, Environmental, & Natural Resource Systems & Texas A&M University School of Law Global Programs


Fort Worth, TX


Copyright © 2019 by Texas A&M University School of Law This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC)

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