By Keith Laing - 02/20/12 08:23 PM EST
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Monday that an agreement had been reached between the United States and Mexico to allow drilling for oil and natural gas along the boundary between the two countries.
Under the agreement, 1.5 million acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf will be opened for drilling. The Interior department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates there are 172 million barrels of oil in the area.
“This agreement makes available promising areas in the resource-rich Gulf of Mexico and establishes a clear process by which both governments can provide the necessary oversight to ensure exploration and development activities are conducted safely,” Salazar said in a statement released by his office Monday.
The agreement was also signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Mexican Foreign Relations Minister Patricia Espinosa and Mexican Energy Minister Jordy Herrera.
A signing ceremony was held Monday in Los Cabos, Mexico.