Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Thursday, 05.10.12


Cuba embargo could threaten oil-drilling safety, expert says

The embargo with Cuba is an obstacle in preventing a possible oil spill

from the recent drilling projects started off the coast of the communist


By Erika Bolstad

WASHINGTON — The 50-year-old U.S. embargo of Cuba is getting in the way

of safety when it comes to deepwater drilling in Cuban waters, an expert

on the communist country's offshore drilling activity said Thursday.

Lee Hunt, the former president of the International Association of

Drilling Contractors, warned that Cold War-era economic sanctions

threaten not only Florida's economy and environment but that of Cuba,

too, in the event of a major disaster on the scale of 2010's Deepwater

Horizon oil spill. The worst-case scenario is "state-sponsored chaos at

a disaster site," Hunt said during an event sponsored by the Center for

International Policy, a Washington think tank.

The U.S. Coast Guard has extensive response plans, as does the state of

Florida. But Hunt said he would give prevention efforts an "F" grade. He

likened the work to stocking body bags for a plane crash — but not

training pilots to fly safely or to maintain aircraft properly.

"We're getting ready for what will inevitably happen if we don't take

the right proactive steps," Hunt said.

His warning and that of other experts came as the Spanish oil company

Repsol is about to tap an offshore reservoir beneath 5,600 feet of

seawater and about 14,000 feet of rock. The company, the first of many

set to drill for oil off Cuba's coast, is working just 77 nautical miles

from Key West, Fla.

Workers are about a week from completing their drilling and are

beginning the technically demanding phase of capping the well and

preparing it for possible production, the panelists at the event said.

Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly, who

along with former Florida Sen. Bob Graham co-chaired the presidential

commission that examined BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, said that in his

most recent visit to Cuba he was reassured that Repsol was moving slowly

in Cuban waters to avoid any surprises. Dan Whittle of the Environmental

Defense Fund said that in his visits to Cuba, well-thumbed copies of the

commission's report looked as though they were "read even more in Havana

than here."

Reilly also noted that Cuban officials are regular readers of daily

bulletins from U.S. agencies on U.S. oil drilling regulations. He said

he urged them to follow Mexican offshore guidelines — which he said are

based on U.S. rules.

"Nobody is predicting a catastrophe in association with anything that

the Cubans are overseeing," Reilly said. "In every way, the Cuban

approach to this is responsible, careful and attentive to the risks that

they know they're undertaking."

"Nevertheless, should there be a need for a response … the United States

government has not interpreted its sanctions policy in a way that would

clearly make available in advance the kind of technologies that would be

required," Reilly said.

Several of the experts said Thursday they are confident that the

Treasury Department could react quickly in an emergency to allow U.S.

oil response teams to get emergency permits to do business with the

Cuban government.

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