The Cuban Oil Crisis? Russia’s Gazprom To Drill In Cuban Waters

Courtesy of The New York Times, a report that Gazprom is going to drill for oil in Cuban waters:

“…The Russian energy giant Gazprom has joined a growing list of companies that plan to drill for oil in the waters off Cuba, close to the United States but out of reach of its safety regulators.

Cuba produces little oil now, but petroleum experts say the country’s northern coastal waters could hold plentiful reserves, which could help revive the island’s economy and ease its dependence on oil imported from Venezuela. Half a dozen companies have signed deals to work as close as 50 miles off the United States coast, but none from the United States because of the 48-year-old trade embargo.

The oil arm of Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, bought a 30 percent share of four exploration blocks from the Malaysian state-owned company Petronas, Gazprom Neft said in a statement.

Under the agreement, the Russian company will also assume a role in operating offshore drilling platforms. Russian oil firms, which operate mostly on land in Siberia, have little expertise offshore and have sought to form partnerships to gain experience.

Gazprom is buying into an exploration deal Petronas reached with the Cuban government in 2007. Work has already begun. After some seismic work, engineers decided to start drilling next year.

If hydrocarbons are found, the leases that now belong partly to Gazprom, pending approval by the Cuban authorities, extend through 2037 for oil and 2042 for natural gas.

As Cuba has made plans to drill for oil in the Gulf, concern has risen in Florida.

Ocean scientists warn that a well blowout at a site where a Spanish company, Repsol, intends to drill next year could send oil spewing onto Cuban beaches and then the Florida Keys in as little as three days. Repsol has contracted with an Italian operator to build a rig made in China for the deep-water well about 50 miles from the coast of the United States.

Cuba lacks the underwater robots and spare drilling rigs that would be needed to contain a big spill, while the trade embargo could complicate assistance by United States companies.

Other companies, from Norway, India, Venezuela, Vietnam and Brazil, have also taken exploration leases in Cuba.”

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