Aberdeen Press and Journal
Cuba's Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS) says that the first of five
deepwater exploration wells planned for the Cuban sector of the Gulf of
Mexico is to spud this summer.
It will be drilled as soon as Saipem's new Scarabeo 9 semi-submersible
rig arrives from the Far East. The basic unit was built by Yantai
Raffles in China and transferred to Singapore for completion.
Manuel Marreno, the ministry's oil sector director, told attendees at
the Fourth International Earth Science Convention in Havana that the
wells will be drilled between 2011 and 2013 in water depths ranging from
He indicated that various foreign oil companies had committed to working
with state-owned Cupet during the campaign.
While Marreno did not name the companies involved, Spanish group Repsol
has a three-year sub-let of the Scarabeo 9 from its Italian owner, ergo
it will drill at least the first of the five wells planned.
In fact, Repsol is working in consortium with Norway's Statoil and ONGC
of India. If the first well is a success, a second is likely to follow
Repsol last drilled offshore Cuba in 2004. However, its Yamagua-1
discovery made on the N27 offshore block in the Strait of Florida was
Other companies planning Cuban deepwater wells include Petronas and,
While some say that Cuba has 5-9billion barrels of oil locked up in the
rocks beneath its deepwater aquatory, another view is that 20billion is
a more likely figure.
Last summer, the Cubans were apparently planning a seven-well programme
rather than the five currently slated.
According to MINBAS, Cuban territorial waters cover an area of 112,000sq
km and are divided into 59 blocks, more than a third of which have been
contracted to foreign companies.
Near neighbour, the US, is deeply concerned that any drilling incident
could quickly lead to pollution of Florida holiday resorts, as Cuba is
90 miles from the American coastline.
Despite the Obama administration's pledge to re-examine the relationship
between Havana and Washington, the 48-year embargo against the Cubans
remains in place, with little apparent sign of it being removed.
And yet the Americans lease land bordering Cuba's Guantanamo Bay where
they house terror suspects in prisoner of war conditions.
President Obama has yet to move towards closing the highly controversial
facility, despite claiming he would do so during his ultimately
successful presidential campaign.
The US oil & gas supply chain is keen to see a resolution to the Cuban
tensions, as it stands to win lucrative business on the back of any
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