Venezuelan government oil company, PDVSA begins this week hydrocarbons exploration in six blocks offshore Cuba, 100 miles from the United States coast, with prospects of finding abundant light crude.
Seven international corporations are interested in exploring the promising northern basin of Cuba where Spain's Repsol-YPF back in 2004 found high quality oil although not in commercial volumes. "The project between PDVSA, CVP and CUPET (Cuban Petroleum) includes six blocks covering approximately 10.000 square kilometers, in which we expect to confirm the presence of light crude deposits in volumes with high production potential", reported PVDSA in a release. Repsol-YPF, India's ONGD Videsh; Norway's Norsk Hydro; Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Berhad and Canadian Sherritt International have shown interest in 59 blocks of Cuba's exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Vietnam's Petrovietnam was the last company to join the offshore exploration boom in Cuba's north basin, which the United States Geological Survey estimates holds reserves equivalent to 4.6 billion barrels of oil, with a maximum potential of 9.3 billion. The opening of the northern basin, just 100 miles from the US coast has US oil corporations restless since they are banned from operating given the standing sanctions imposed by Washington on Cuba since the sixties. Sanctions have turned Venezuela's Hugo Chavez into Cuba's main trading partner with daily shipments of 98.000 barrels of oil, at preferential prices, which the Fidel Castro regime pays with the services of 26.600 doctors who are working for the Venezuelan government social and health programs. Bilateral trade reached 2.6 billion US dollars last year, six times higher than in 2001. Besides PDVSA is collaborating with several energy projects in Cuba such as the renovation of the Cienfuegos refinery which can process 65.000 bpd and the building of fuel storage facilities in Matanzas province.
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