Platform Arrives in Cuba for Oil Exploration

A platform owned by Norway arrived in the waters off the north coast of Cuba for oil Russian oil firm Zarubezhneft’s exploratory drilling. The arrival renews the search for petroleum in the island after this year’s failure on three wells.

According to the published notice of newspaper Granma of the Communist Party, oil drilling is set to start soon and will last for six months. The project’s depth is 21,300 feet.

There was an inspection on the Songa-owned Mercur rig to ensure that it contains less than 10 percent of its parts from the United States, according to oil firm Cubapetroleo. That allows firms that are part of the project to prevent sanctions covered by the 50-year-old embargo of the U.S. versus Cuba.

The oil exploration block in question, near the beautiful beaches of a main tourist resort, is deemed less promising compared to the offshore areas to the west, where drilling was performed by a very deep water platform on three wells considered non-commercially viable.

Italian-owned Scarabeo-9, a big semi-submersible rig, left the waters of Cuba in the past month after sinking three deep wells. According to analysts, it would take years before the resumption of oil drilling in those exploration blocks. Geologic surveys show that about 5 to 9 billion oil barrels may be contained in Cuba’s offshore. Authorities of the island hoped for more and have been betting on a large reservoir being present.

Adding dollars from petroleum activity can boost the struggling economy of Cuba, and the economic reforms of  President Raul Castro. Moreover, it can ease the energy dependence of the island on Venezuela, which has given the country oil worth billions of dollars only on special terms.

The new exploration well has the goal of shedding light on the natural gas and petroleum potential in that part of the country, according to Granma’s notice. Moreover, the notice said that the results of the program should add to the knowledge of the damaged area and all of the north central part of Cuba.

By: Chris Termeer

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