Malaysia firm, PDVSA to drill off Cuba as Repsol stops
Cash-strapped Cuba's long quest for black gold took another twist with
the announcement that a Malaysian firm and Venezuela's PDVSA will use an
advanced oil platform vacated by Spain's Repsol.
Repsol had been doing exploratory drilling since February offshore not
far from Havana, but on May 22 said it had not found oil with the
Scarabeo-9, a state-of-the-art $500,000-a-day platform.
"The Scarabeo-9 platform used in exploratory drilling in the field
Jaguey-1X has been moved to the Catoche-1X well area", said a statement
from state oil firm Cupet read out on an official news broadcast.
The new well, "where drilling started May 24," is operated by a
Malaysian firm that is a subsidiary of Petronas "on a risk contract with
Cupet in which Russia's Gastrionet also is taking part."
Once drilling is complete on the current well, Scarabeo-9 will be moved
to an area called Cabo de San Antonio 1X, run by Petroleos de Venezuela
SA, (PDVSA), the Cupet statement added, without giving dates.
Some studies estimate Cuba has probable reserves of between five and
nine billion barrels of oil in its economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
Cuban authorities have said their crude reserves are as high as 20
The country has long suffered from crippling energy dependence.
The Americas' lone one-party Communist state used to depend on the
Soviet bloc for cut-rate oil and plunged into economic chaos and
blackouts when it was cut off after 1989.
Now Cuba depends on Venezuela — a vital economic and political ally —
for most of its oil; any cut to Venezuelan supplies could spell
political and economic disaster for Havana.
But if Cuba locks in its energy independence, it could lurch from a
cash-poor developing nation into a flush oil exporter overnight,
potentially breathing new life into its one-party state.
Cuba's economic zone in the Gulf is divided into 59 blocs. They include
ventures with Repsol (Spain), Hydro (Norway), OVL (India), PDVSA
(Venezuela), Petrovietnam, Petronas (Malaysia) and Sonangol (Angola).
China and Venezuela have said they intend to help Cuba triple its
refining capacity by 2017.