Minister: Cuba open to American investment in oil ventures, but blocked by US

Campaign News | Wednesday, 21 March 2007

First oil and gas congress in Cuba opens

HAVANA: Cuba is open to American companies that want to join the communist country's new oil-drilling ventures but any such deals are being blocked by Washington, the minister overseeing energy matters said Tuesday.

Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia said exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico should start to yield profits by 2011.

"A lot of American companies have been coming, they know about our studies ... but we are not the ones limiting them," Garcia told reporters at an international gathering on earth sciences.

Garcia said it was "a good moment" for Washington to let American oil companies invest in the Cuban market. Currently, a long-standing U.S. trade embargo prohibits most American trade and investment with the communist-run island.

In effect for more than four decades, the U.S. embargo bans virtually all trade between the two countries except for the sales of American food and medicine to the island.

Companies from Norway, India, Malaysia, Spain and Venezuela are among those that have already reserved blocks for petroleum exploration under production-sharing agreements with Cuba.

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported that the North Cuba Basin off the island's coast holds a substantial quantity of oil - 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels of crude and 9.8 trillion to 21.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

U.S. Senators Larry Craig, a Republican from Idaho, and Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, earlier this month introduced a measure containing a provision to allow U.S. oil and natural gas companies to work in Cuban waters.

But a Senate bill already has been introduced that seeks to punish companies that invest in Cuban drilling near Florida. U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-born Republican from Florida, has pledged a similar measure in the House.

First oil and gas congress in Cuba opens

Havana, March 21 (NNN-PRENSA LATINA) Challenges of horizontal and far-reaching perforation are among issues of the First Congress on Oil and Gas, Petrogas 2007, which began in this capital on Tuesday.

According to organizers, this meeting will be run due to the importance of both resources for the country's economy.

Among issues to be analyzed are exploration in deep waters, production of heavy crude oil in fields with carbonated reserves, and treatment, transport and refining heavy crude oil.

The expansion of the Cuban oil industry has among its fundamental bases the contributions of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an integrationist project that places social aims first and assume true economic complementation.

Being held in parallel to the congress is the Second Earth Sciences Convention, Geociencias 2007, with forums on geology, geophysics and the mining industry and attended by 20 nations, among them Canada, Venezuela, Chile, Spain, China, Italy and Mexico.

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