Cuba Oil Production: Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Via the Financial Times, a short article on Cuba’s offshore oil ambitions:

Cuba has found itself between a rock and a hard place in its quest to find oil in its territorial waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Several rocks and several hard places, in fact.

After a discovery that failed to reach commercial proportions and a dry hole, both drilled by Spain’s Repsol, Malaysia’s Petronas and Russia’s Gazpromneft brought more bad news on Monday.

They did find an “active petroleum system” but the rocks were too compact, so blocking the flow of oil, according to a statement in the Communist Party daily Granma. “The discovery cannot be rated as commercial,” it added.

Three successive failures is no disaster in the world of deepwater exploration. Just ask Mexico’s state company, Pemex. It has drilled 19 deepwater wells and made only one commercial discovery, of natural gas – except that by now shale gas has ripped the bottom out of its probable market.

Cuba and Mexico, in fact, are rather like star-crossed lovers in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex has been able to make only slow progress in its advance into ever deeper waters. Unlike the operators on the US side of the maritime border, Pemex is forbidden by law to spread the very great financial risks involved.

That is because a risk-sharing deal would provide the partners with a potential share of any oil and gas that might be found. And the Mexican Constitution says that only the Mexican state can own hydrocarbons found in the nation’s territory.

Hence the slow progress in Mexico. Cuba can share risks with foreign companies, but the restrictions imposed on the US embargo on the island pose problems of a different kind.

The oil industry without US technology and companies is like the Olympics without the US and China combined. Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA is said to be willing to take on the baton from Petronas and Gazpromneft. But after that, nobody else appears ready to challenge. No other obvious suitor for this star-crossed lover.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 4:32 am and is filed under Cuba, Cubpet.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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