Cuban off-shore oil drilling put off until 2009
Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:29am EDT
HAVANA, April 16 (Reuters) – Cuba's minister of basic industry said
plans by a consortium of companies to drill in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico
waters this year have been rescheduled for 2009, the country's state-run
media said on Wednesday.
"In the Gulf of Mexico we are doing seismic studies and our perspective
is we should resume drilling in the area next year," Basic Industry
Minister Yadira Garcia was quoted by the official Juventud Rebelde
newspaper as stating.
Garcia said last year that drilling by a consortium led by Repsol-YPF
(REP.MC: Quote, Profile, Research) of Spain would begin in 2008, if a
rig could be rented.
Interest in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico blocks picked up after Repsol
discovered a small deposit of light oil in 2004 that was not
Repsol has since joined forces with Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL: Quote, Profile,
Research) and ONGC Videsh (ONGC.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) of India.
Seven foreign companies have signed exploration agreements with Cuban
state oil company CUPET for 28 of the 59 blocks available in the deep
Gulf of Mexico waters of Cuba's economic exclusion zone fronting the
The director of exploration for CUPET said this week activity was
picking up in Cuba's deep waters.
"Right now seismic studies are under way on 2,300 square kilometers and
very soon three-dimensional studies will begin on 4,500 square
kilometers in the Gulf of Mexico," Rafael Tenreyro said.
The Repsol well was the first to be drilled in the area since Fidel
Castro's 1959 revolution.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the North Cuba basin could contain
4.6 billion barrels of oil, with a high-end potential of 9.3 billion
barrels, and close to 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Garcia said U.S. companies were interested in exploration, but were
barred under trade sanctions enforced in 1962 against the island's
"There have been meetings with businessmen asking questions and looking
for information … They have had an interest in acting in Cuba," she said.
In addition to Repsol-YPF, ONGC and Nordsk Hydro, Venezuelan state oil
company PDVSA, Vietnam state oil and gas group Petrovietnam, Malaysia's
state-run Petronas [PETR.UL] and Canada's Sherritt International (S.TO:
Quote, Profile, Research) have taken blocks in the area. Brazil's
Petrobras (PETR4.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) said in January it was
considering taking out blocks in Cuban deep water.