The White House is working with lawmakers on legislation needed to work with the Mexican government on oil reserves in shared waters, an official said.
U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar addressed the National Press Club in Washington on plans to kick-start oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Work in the Gulf of Mexico is slowly re-emerging after the U.S. government lifted a moratorium on some exploration there following the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010.
Salazar said the White House was working with members of Congress on legislation that would put a transboundary oil and natural gas agreement with the Mexican government into force.
"We estimate the area contains up to 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion cubic feet of natural gas," he said.
U.S. and Mexican officials in February signed an agreement on the exploration of oil and natural gas along a shared maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico.
The agreement sets up a framework for U.S. energy companies to work with Mexico's state-run Petroleos Mexicanos to develop transboundary reserves that were off-limits under the terms of previous treaty agreements.
"The Mexican legislature has already approved the agreement and we shouldn't wait to act on it either," said Salazar.