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Cuba, U.S., Mexico Meet to Set Gulf of Mexico Borders

Representatives from Mexico, the United States and Cuba met to negotiate the borders of the Western Polygon - a region in the Gulf of Mexico with sizable oil and gas deposits, but unclear boundaries.

Two sources close to the issue told Reuters that the meeting covered the “Doughnut Hole,” after talks on the matter began in late 2014, when the United States and Cuba announced their mutual restoration of diplomatic ties.

International treaties give nations exploitation rights to resources found within 200 miles of their land territory, but, in certain parts in the Gulf of Mexico, those areas overlap, requiring the involved nations to negotiate additional agreements.

Reuters’ sources specified that the talks would be technical in nature and should be over by the end of this week.

"The conversations are looking for agreement to demarcate the borders and see what will happen with this area," a source said.

Mexico entered into a maritime borders treaty with the U.S. in 1978, which delineated the outer boundaries of 200 nautical miles for both states – the U.S. getting fisheries jurisdiction over its lot and Mexico establishing an Exclusive Economic Zone in its lot, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This treaty, however, left two areas between each of the two nation’s coasts and beyond the outer boundary. One of these areas was the “Western gap”, which was only divided in 2000. Cuba has yet to sign a maritime border treaty with the other parties.

New reforms put into place in Mexico two years ago set up a framework for the country to pursue private investment deals for the development of deepwater oil and gas reserves in its namesake Gulf.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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