Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Saturday, 12.15.12

Oil rig arrives off Cuba for new exploration


Associated Press

HAVANA — A Norwegian-owned platform arrived in waters off Cuba's

north-central coast for exploratory drilling by the Russian oil company

Zarubezhneft, authorities said Saturday, renewing the island's search

for petroleum after three failed wells this year.

Drilling is to begin "in the coming days" and take six months, according

to a notice published by the Communist Party newspaper Granma. The depth

of the project was given as 21,300 feet (6,500 meters).

State-run oil company Cubapetroleo said in the announcement that the

Songa Mercur rig, owned by Songa Offshore of Norway, was inspected to

make sure it contains less than 10 percent U.S.-made parts. That allows

the companies involved in the drilling to avoid sanctions under the

50-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba.

The exploration block in question, near the gleaming beaches of a major

tourist resort, is considered less promising than offshore areas to the

west where earlier this year a superdeep-water platform drilled three

wells deemed commercially nonviable.

The Scarabeo-9, a huge semisubmersible rig owned by Italy's Saipem, left

Cuban waters last month after sinking the three dud wells, and analysts

said it could be years before drilling resumed in those deep-water blocks.

Geologic surveys say 5 billion to 9 billion barrels of oil may lie off

Cuba's coast. Island authorities hope there may be even more and have

been banking on a big strike.

An injection of petrodollars could boost Cuba's struggling economy,

bankroll President Raul Castro's economic reforms and ease the island's

energy dependence on Venezuela, which has sent billions of dollars'

worth of oil on preferential terms.

"The new well has the objective of determining the potential of

petroleum and natural gas in this sector of our country," the notice in

Granma read. "Its results should contribute to the knowledge of the area

of the perforation, as well as all of north-central Cuba."

Cuba's oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted protest from

Cuban exiles in the United States and alarmed some who fear a spill

could befoul American shores from Florida to the Carolinas.

The notice in Granma said the Songa Mercur rig also underwent safety

inspection and is capable of drilling with minimum environmental risk."

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