Venezuela to Drill for Cuban Oil

By Circles Robinson

Caracas gas station. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is poised to see if three can be the charm as it begins to drill an offshore well off the coast of far western Cuba.

Previous attempts by Spanish and Malaysian companies came up dry.

Cuban and United States geologists believe that over five billion of barrels of oil are buried in Cuban waters, but striking the ideal find can only be done at over US $100 million a try.

PDVSA has taken over the lease on Scarabeo 9, the Chinese built, US $750 million Italian conglomerate drilling rig, with hopes of striking a major find that would boost the dependent Cuban economy in a big way.

EFE news agency quoted Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez as saying the deepwater exploration will begin soon after taking possession of Scarabeo in the coming days.

The first dry well was drilled by Repsol, which then decided to cancel two other planned wells.  The second exploration was carried out jointly by Malaysia’s PC Gulf and Russia’s Gazpromneft, which failed to find significant quantities of gas and petroleum.

Cuba has divided its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico into 59 blocks. A total of 22 foreign oil companies have contracts to try their luck at drilling.

Venezuela is Cuba’s leading trade partner and its president, Hugo Chavez, the island government’s top political ally.


4 thoughts on “Venezuela to Drill for Cuban Oil

  • Not to Cuba certainly, but to you?

  • Lawrence W implies that having knowledge over a wide range of topics and the priviledge of travel is somehow a threat to Cuban sovereignty. Based on your equally wide-ranging yet racist and close-minded comments, you clearly pose no threat whatsoever.

  • ‘Moses’ sudden expertise in oil drilling is interesting. Here’s a guy who gets around, witnessing two Occupy Movement events in the last year, one near where he lives in San Francisco and one 3,000 miles away in New York, and who spends 6 months in Cuba who’s suddenly an oil expert. What are we looking at here?

    Based on the incredible profits the oil industry earns, one can imagine how US oil companies would kill (literally) to get a piece of the Cuban oil action. One has to be concerned about an American who has a laser-like interest in Cuba’s oil fields. He has certainly provided us with details about where he’s been and where he goes in Cuba. And we know his skin colour. Perhaps Cuban authorities need to be alerted to his next visit.

    I’m serious. I saw the precautions Cuban immigration took when an American sailboat arrived in Cuba from the Bahamas. They were polite but took the boat apart, employing sniffer dogs, and when they left, reviewed the photos in their digital cameras. Canadians I talked to had an entirely different experience.

    Based on what ‘Moses’ writes about the Cuban government, I feel it is entirely justified in treating him as a ‘person of interest’. His country has renditioned people like Canada’s Maher Arar on far less evidence of being a threat. Seriously, can anyone at Havana Times look into this?

  • Ever the optimist, it is interesting to me to note that the Repsol project took place at a drill site thought to be the most likely location to find supposed medium-grade refinable oil. Venezuela initially took a pass on the drilling proposal because their expertise is in the higher grade crude oil found off the Venezuelan coast. The Malaysian consortium, likewise, selected the second most likely site to find the medium grade oil. Instead what they found was a low grade, expensive to refine crude that did not make economic sense to pump. So, where are we? Venezuela, unaccustomed to this style of drilling and looking in a zone written off as least likely to contain the medium grade crude. The rig is only available for Cuban exploration for the next two months because its next scheduled stop is, you guessed it, Venezuela. Sound promising?

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