Cuba Moves Toward Development of its Offshore Oil Resources
Posted on Oct 10th, 2011
Cuba Moves Toward Development of its Offshore Oil ResourcesThe United
States is suffering from high unemployment, high energy prices, stagnant
economic growth, and a massive budget deficit.
By expediting the development of offshore oil resources, the government
could tackle all four of these problems simultaneously. Yet for some
reason, the Administration continues to drag its feet.
In contrast, the Cuban government has no problem providing a hungry
world with more oil. This is leading to an awkward situation indeed,
especially when some experts who recently visited Cuba report that the
Havana government is taking the project seriously and is heeding the
lessons of the BP spill.
Rather than taking the Cuban move as a kick in the pants to expedite
comparable American efforts, the U.S. government did what it does
best—threaten punishment on private companies for daring to provide the
world with more energy. According to a story from The Hill:
A bipartisan group of 34 House members is pressuring Spanish oil giant
Repsol to abandon its plans to drill in deep waters off Cuba's northern
coast, warning that the company could face liability in U.S. courts.
Their letter to Repsol—which warns that its plans will "provide direct
financial benefit to the Castro dictatorship"—joins existing concerns
about the environmental risk of spills in the waters 60 miles from
The Sept. 27 letter is signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee
Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and includes a substantial
number of Florida lawmakers.
As to current law, Repsol may be in jeopardy of subjecting itself and
its affiliates to criminal and civil liability in U.S. courts.
Violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), the Alien Tort Claims Act and the
Trade Sanctions Reform and Enforcement Act can lead to serious
ramifications for individuals or businesses that deal with the Cuban
regime. Additionally, there are only four U.S.-designated State Sponsors
of Terrorism, and the laws that regulate commercial transactions with
them, and the grave civil and criminal penalties that those laws impose,
Repsol plans to begin looking for oil off Cuba's coast as soon as late
2011, according to press reports.
This is not the place to discuss the pros and cons of the U.S. embargo
on Cuba, except to say that if the original purpose of the 1960s policy
was to hurt the Castro regime, it doesn't seem to be working too well.
The important lesson for today is that the other governments of the
world aren't nearly as foolish as the Americans'. They recognize that
when you have valuable natural resources located in your jurisdiction,
it makes sense to go ahead and develop them.
The U.S. government can continue wagging its finger at everybody else,
and lecturing them on how they should emulate our great example in
government investments in renewables…or American officials might decide
to unshackle entrepreneurs to create jobs and cheaper energy.