The Communist island nation is to start work on five wells in the Gulf this summer in fields where reserves are estimated at 20 billion barrels, reports China’s People’s Daily. Production should start in 2013.
Cuba currently produces around 21 million barrels of oil a year, less than half its energy needs. Virtually all its imports come from Venezuela. "We are all very hopeful to find larger oil and gas deposits," said Manuel Marrero, an official with MINBAS, Cuba's Ministry of Basic Industry.
He said the platforms used by the Cubans and their unidentified foreign partners would be among the safest and most modern in the world and that drilling would be done under “very severe” regulation.
No American companies can take advantage of the Cuban move due to Washington’s long-standing ban on U.S. business dealings with the island.
Permits for drilling in the US section of the Gulf were halted in the light of the April 2010 explosion on the BP rig which killed 11 workers and released millions of gallons of oil. The first new permit since then was issued to Shell last month.
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