"We're about to move to the drilling phase," said Ministry of Basic Industry official Manuel Marrero regarding work that will be completed with the help of unspecified foreign oil firms. He further mentioned that the wells would be done between this year and 2013, and the wells could reach a depth of 400 to 1500 meters underwater.
Cuba has demarcated 59 blocks for offshore oil exploration and seven companies including Repsol (Spain), OVL (India) and PDVSA (Venezuela) have signed on to explore twenty spaces. Last month, Brazil’s Petrobras withdrew from exploring one of the spaces since the company wants to “concentrate on our prospecting” in Brazil. (U.S. oil firms are excluded due to the decades-long embargo on Cuba).
Ex-Senator Bob Graham, who is currently serving as co-chair of panel trying to strengthen U.S. and Mexico offshore drilling standards, raised the “concern about the prospect of drilling so close to our coast with a country that has not engaged in this previously.”
The plans may also irk some U.S. legislators wary opposed to the Castro regime and others wary of possible environmental problems. As noted in the Naples Daily News in February, the issue has united several key federal Congressmen representing Florida:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has introduced bills to deny visas and entry into the United States to executives of oil companies that want to drill in Cuba…Marrero tried to assure that the planned projects will be done with the utmost safety and noted, “the companies that will drill are prestigious and experienced.”
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, issued a statement...saying that what other countries do in their waters “is their business.”
“However, American business that supports the Castro dictatorship should not be permitted to do so,” the statement said.
As we mentioned last May, Cuban officials expressed their worries over oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill reaching the island’s shores.
Image- PA via BBC News
Online Sources- France 24, Houston Chronicle, Reuters, Seattle Times, Naples Daily News, The Latin Americanist