Feds say rig heading for Cuba drilling meets standards
By Puneet Kollipara, WASHINGTON BUREAU
Published 10:15 p.m., Monday, January 9, 2012
WASHINGTON – Federal officials said Monday that a drilling rig heading
for Cuban waters near Florida to explore for oil and gas generally meets
international and U.S. standards.
Officials with the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the
Scarabeo 9, a mobile offshore-drilling unit that privately owned Spanish
company Repsol plans to use as close as 50 miles to Florida's coast.
While aboard, officials reviewed details about the vessel's
construction, drilling equipment and safety systems, the environmental
enforcement bureau said.
Some U.S. lawmakers of Cuban descent have said the Obama administration
should do more to prevent the drilling altogether because it could
benefit the communist regime in Cuba and pose environmental risks to
U.S. coastal lands and waters.
The United States has no official say in Repsol's ability to drill in
Cuban waters. And American influence is limited because of a longtime
trade embargo that generally bars U.S. commerce with the Caribbean nation.
But Repsol has leases with the Interior Department in Gulf of Mexico
waters, which gave the federal government enough leverage to get the
company to commit to following American standards and to let U.S.
inspectors examine the vessel outside Cuban waters.