Another Cuban Oil Well Turns Up Dry

November 2, 2012 | Print Print |

HAVANA TIMES — The Venezuelan government-owned company PDVSA reported that it found no commercially viable oil in Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico, making their exploration well the third unsuccessful search for oil in recent months, reported DPA news.

Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and CUPET closed their exploratory well last week in Cabo de San Antonio, off the far western end of the island, having found no “potential for commercial exploitation,” explained the Cuban state-run enterprise Cubapetroleo (CUPET) on Friday.

Notwithstanding, PDVSA will continue to operate in Cuba, according to a statement by the company. “The technical expertise and valuable geological information obtained have contributed to reaffirming PDVSA’s decision to continue its participation in the exploration campaign in Cuban waters,” read the statement.

This finding is another setback for the government of Raul Castro. The present effort was the third failed attempt to find oil in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In late May, the Spanish energy company Repsol announced it was shutting down its oil exploration effort off the coast of Cuba after failing to find oil on its first bore.

Soon after, Petronas of Malaysia and the Russian group Gazprom Neft also failed in their attempt to find oil suitable for commercial exploitation in the Cuban Gulf.

A PDVSA gas station in Caracas. Photo: Caridad

The discovery of oil in Cuban waters is one of the great economic hopes of the government of Raul Castro. Several foreign energy firms, with Repsol initially at the head, became interested in exploring there.

In late January, a latest-generation platform designed for ultra-deep-water drilling arrived off the island’s shores. The US $750 million Scarabeo-9, built in China with Italian capital, was contracted by several multinationals to perform consecutive borings off the coast of Cuba.

In addition to PDVSA, other foreign companies are planning to drill in Cuba’s exclusive economic zone, such as the Vietnamese company PetroVietnam. Brazil is also participating in the expansion of the port of Mariel, destined to become a major logistics base for trade in the region.

Cuba estimates that in its exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, about 112,000 square kilometers, lie 20 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. Although calculating lower figures, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) also estimates a significant oil potential in the basin north of the island.

The Raul Castro government currently depends on its supply of energy from Venezuela, led by Hugo Chavez.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    The Scarabeo 9 oil rig is one of only a three in the world permitted to conduct drilling operations in Cuban waters as it was specially constructed with less than 10% of US-made materials. There are less expensive oil rigs better suited for deeper drilling however because of the US embargo can not be used. One can only imagine, out of love for country and complete unselfishness, that Raul Castro steps down, schedules open democratic elections and triggers the lifting of the US embargo against his poor country. Better suited rigs are engaged, oil is finally discovered and democracy rules in Cuba. Socialist or capitalist, the system would reflect the will of the people and not just the Castro family. One can only imagine….

    • Luis

      Logic-inversion. Again. Why don’t the US issues an embargo on oil-filled Saudi Arabia because of its undemocratic feudal monarch system?

      • Moses

        The embargo specifically, and the ill relations in general with Cuba have never simply been about the lack of democracy in Cuba. Rather, when Cuba, despite their proximity to the most powerful country in the history of the world chose to adopt an international policy that hoped to threaten the sovereignty of the US with their alliance with the Soviet bloc, they inherited the ramifications that accompanied that choice. Saudi Arabia has made different choices. As a result, the US maintains a different relationship with them.

        • Lawrence W

          RE: the blockade having “never simply been about the lack of democracy in Cuba.”

          Exactly 20 minutes before you submitted this comment, you submitted another one that stated, “Simply put, lifting the US embargo against Cuba MUST be preceded by actions taken by the Cuban dictatorship to become more democratic.”

          The only connection between the two statements is the word “simply”.

          RE: the blockade being part of the “ramifications” “when Cuba, despite their proximity to the most powerful country in the history of the world chose to adopt an international policy that hoped to threaten the sovereignty of the US with their alliance with the Soviet bloc.”

          Two days ago, you wrote that US-Cuban policy “has not really been about Cuba since the break-up of the USSR.”

          On the one hand you spout enduring cold war rhetoric as justification and on the other you say it ended more than 20 years ago. The inconsistencies abound.

          You do consistently, from time to time, tell us the real reason the blockade has remained in place for 50 plus astounding years. Two days ago you wrote “There is NO reason to discuss lifting the [blockade], eliminating the Cuban Adjustment Act or eliminating travel restrictions as long as powerful anticastristas continue to hold political sway.”

          And I responded, “It’s always been about power – Yankee imperialist power working to get the government IT wants.”

          • Moses

            There is no conflict at all between the two comments. The reason for the embargo and the path to lifting the embargo are different. Nor is it a moving ¨goalpost¨ as you have blathered in another comment. Super simple: The embargo exists to put pressure on the regime through economic hardships which directly affect the population. The same strategy is currently being used in Iran and Syria as well. The path to lifting the embargo is by way of open and democratic elections and freedom of the press.

          • Lawrence W

            RE: claiming that “the reason for the [blockade] and the path to lifting the [blockade] are different” are somehow not an example of ‘moving the goalpost’.

            If the criteria for lifting it is different than the stated reason for imposing it, that’s moving the goalpost, no matter how you look at it.

            Cuba is no longer allied with Russia. The blockade remains and Cuba is labeled a terrorist country. Cuba stops supporting rebel movements in Africa and Latin America. The blockade remains and the Cuban-Americans in Florida are blamed. The demographics change and “democratic elections and freedom of the press” are now the stated “path to lifting the [blockade].” And the blockade remains.

            You must think Cubans are fools.

            RE: “The embargo exists to put pressure on the regime through economic hardships which directly affect the population”.

            More accurately, the embargo exists to create economic hardships that directly affect the population in order to put pressure on the regime. In other words, torture the people in order to get what you want, in the same category as “I’ll cut off the finger of your loved one if you don’t give me what I want.” A common practice of gangsters and thugs.

            RE: “The same strategy is currently being used in Iran and Syria as well.”

            Quite correct. And used viciously in Iraq before that where half a million children died due to the sanctions, “more children than died in Hiroshima”, as a 60 Minutes reporter pointed out to Madeine Albright when she infamously replied when asked, is “the price worth it?” – “we [the US] think the price is worth it.”

    • Lawrence W

      RE: Cuba not having access to “less expensive oil rigs better suited for deeper drilling … because of the US blockade”.

      One more way the US makes the economic life of Cubans more difficult. You regularly remind us of Cubans’ economic hardships and then you tell us how your country contributes to it. It’s a common practice of sadists and torturers.

      RE: Advocating Raul stepping down in order to stop the hardship on his people.

      Sadists enjoy inflicting pain. Torturers inflict pain to get what they want. Sometimes the pain is inflicted on someone else who you care for and you are told it will stop if you do what the torturer wants.

      This is what you are advocating Raul do to stop the pain against his people.

      I’ve never met anyone who views torture and torturers as anything other than revolting. It seems your country has slipped into revolting behaviour.

      The consensus of opinion is that torture never results in what you want. Perhaps it’s sadism, after all, that we are looking at.

  • Hubert Gieschen

    Luis,
    I can only agree with you. You might also be interested to learn about the excellent relations the Republic of Cuba has with the undemocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    http://www.trabajadores.cu/news/20120927/2512160-ambassador-saudi-arabia-highlights-relations-cuba

    http://www.cubaminrex.cu/English/Actualidad/2010/Enero/Foreign%20Ministries.html from which teh following quote comes:

    Both parties express hopes that the ties between Havana and Riyadh will be strengthen, and agreed to analyze further the possibilities of cooperation in all possible fields.:

    • Luis

      This is a bad argument. A very bad argument. Not only it misses the point, which is the hypocrisy of Moses’ argument for the reason of the embargo being the ‘evil’ nature of the Cuban establishment, it diverges the topic to something completely unrelated. My country has diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. And does not suffer from US sanctions because of it, for instance. Your (lack of) logic follows the following fallacy:

      If A = B and B = C, therefore A = C.

      This might be true in mathematics but when it comes to arguments it isn’t. For example: I state that I (A) dislike bees (B). But bees produce honey (C), therefore I dislike honey.

  • larry

    You guys are all right but one thing you forgot to mention’ raul will be leaving sooner than you think.after his brother passes there will be a timely discovery that will change everything for the people of cuba’ remember for every bad thing that happens something good must take its place