Spanish oil company explores drilling off the Cuban coast
By David Ariosto, CNN
July 15, 2010 — Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Spanish oil company Repsol is in "the exploration
stage" of oil drilling off of Cuba's northern coast, prompting a
controversy in south Florida over fears of a potential spill.
The company is part of a consortium that includes Norwegian oil and
natural gas company, Statoil. Repsol will begin an appraisal of the
project following the construction of a drilling rig that's being built
in China, Kristian Rix, a company representative told CNN in a written
The European oil giant first drilled near Yamagua, Cuba, in 2004 and
found "encouraging results," Rix said.
But in the aftermath of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of
Mexico, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, called on President Barack
Obama to "prohibit the Cuban regime from initiating further drilling."
Though deepwater drilling has been largely banned off Florida's coasts,
a 1977 treaty between the United States and Cuba divides the water
between the two countries equally.
That would allow oil companies to drill in Cuban waters that lie just 45
miles from the Florida Keys.
The region is considered rich with natural resources, housing an
estimated 4.6 billion barrels of oil and nearly 10 trillion cubic feet
of natural gas in the North Cuba Basin, according to the U.S. Geological
But a nearly half-century trade embargo has traditionally stymied
efforts to develop deep-water platforms and Cuban oil exploration.