Russian oil company close to offshore Cuba drilling
Published: 16 November, 2012, 14:44
Russian oil company Zarubezhneft is pushing ahead with its Cuba offshore
drilling project as its oil rig reached Cuban territorial waters.
The rig will start drilling at the L Block some 330 km from Havana,
developing a joint venture between Zarubezhneft and Cuba's state-owned
Cubapetroleo oil company. The investment costs for exploration are
expected to be about $126 mln.
A delegation of Russian and Cuban officials visited the rig Thursday,
including the chairman of Russia's Audit Chamber Sergey Stepashin,
Russia's ambassador to Cuba Mikhail Kamyshin, and Zarubezhneft CEO
"We have displayed the flags of Cuba, Russia and Zarubezhneft,"
Stepashin said. "We hope to see the first results of drilling by May and
hope we would see "big oil".
Earlier this year Zarubezhneft signed a contract on the use of the Songa
Mercur rig for Zarubezhneft's drilling campaign off the coast of Cuba.
The rig from Cyprus-based Songa Offshore can drill in water up to 1365
Geological surveys showed that Cuban offshore oil reserves could be
between 5 billion and 9 billion barrels of oil, but the development
turned out more challenging than previously thought. A consortium led by
Spanish oil major Repsol hit the first dry hole last spring. That was
followed by unsuccessful attempts by Malaysia's Petronas in partnership
with Russia's Gazprom Neft, and by Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA.
Earlier this week the Scarabeo 9, a Chinese-built offshore drilling rig,
which has been contracted by Italian oil company Saipem, sailed away
from Cuba after the third exploration failed.
Meanwhile the President of Cuba's Council of State and Council of
Ministers Raul Castro met Sergey Stepashin Thursday, visiting Havana, to
discuss "various aspects of historic relations of friendship and
cooperation" between the countries, Cuba media reported. Earlier this
week they signed an agreement in Havana on the joint fight against
corruption, training, professional enhancement courses for auditors, and
the verification of cooperation projects.
On November 5 Raul Castro met with Russian Minister of Industry and
Trade Denis Manturov, who attended the 10th session of the bilateral