Repsol says will drill off Cuba following U.S. rules
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON | Fri Jun 3, 2011 3:11pm EDT
(Reuters) – Spain's Repsol has reassured the United States it will
follow American environmental requirements when it drills offshore Cuba
this year and will allow U.S. officials to inspect the drilling rig,
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Friday.
Following the BP Plc oil spill last year in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S.
government is worried Cuba may be unable to ensure the safety of its
offshore drilling. The United States does not have full formal relations
Salazar told reporters in a conference call that the government was
concerned about oil drilling in Cuba's portion of the Gulf of Mexico,
about 50 miles from the Florida border.
The issue was discussed when Salazar met representatives from Repsol
this week during his visit to Spain.
"What they said is that they will be complying with United States'
environmental requirements," Salazar said of Repsol's commitment.
He said Repsol spelled out the company's planned drilling offshore Cuba
and how they would meet U.S. rules and regulations.
Cuba is eager to develop its oil resources in the Gulf of Mexico, which
it estimates could total 20 billion barrels of crude. The United States
pegs the total at a more modest 5 billion barrels.
Salazar said there was no discussion with Repsol on what would happen if
the company did not follow U.S. offshore drilling rules while doing
business in Cuba, such as limiting Repsol's access to future drilling
leases in U.S. waters as punishment for noncompliance.
"We'll continue to monitor the situation closely," he said.
Repsol already has drilling leases in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and in
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by David Gregorio)