US & Mexico Holding Bi-National Oil Spill Response Exercise

The United States and Mexican Navy are holding a bi-national oil spill response exercise in Matamoros, Mexico May 26.

The exercise is called MEXUS Gulf 2004. This event marks the third joint exercise since the signing of the agreement of cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico regarding pollution of the marine environment by discharges of hydrocarbons and other hazardous substances, called the MEXUS Plan, in February of 2000.

This year's exercise is being sponsored by Shell Exploration and Production Co. (SEPCo) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican Navy. SEPCo is the deepwater Gulf of Mexico's largest operator and producer of oil and gas. Shell's goal in sponsoring this year's event is to further the cooperation and effectiveness for both governments and industry by addressing the joint response efforts, following a significant impact the to coast shared by both nations.

The exercise will address trans-boundary, socio-economic and logistical issues that such a pollution incident could bring, and will also examine established response procedures and implementation solutions from previous exercises' lessons learned.

The exercise scenario simulates a 24,000 barrel oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 200 miles east of South Padre Island, Texas and approximately 200 miles east of South Padre Island, Texas and approximately 20 miles north of Mexican territorial waters.

Agencies participating in the exercise include: U.S. Coast Guard, Mexican Navy, Texas General Land Office, Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service, U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and Mexican Petroleum Company in addition to over 20 other federal, state and local agencies from both countries.

A joint unified command at the Holiday Inn, Matamoros, will be the site of a tabletop exercise.