6 days ago
HAVANA (AP) — Russian oil companies could soon begin searching for oil
in deep Gulf of Mexico waters off Cuba, a top diplomat said just days
before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits the island.
Russian oil companies have "concrete projects" for drilling in Cuba's
part of the gulf, said Mijail Kamynin, Russia's ambassador to Cuba, to
the state-run business magazine Opciones.
Kamynin also said Russian companies would like to help build storage
tanks for crude oil and to modernize Cuban pipelines, as well as play a
role in Venezuelan efforts to refurbish a Soviet-era refinery in the
port city of Cienfuegos, according the article published this weekend.
Medvedev comes to former Cold War ally Cuba on Thursday, part of a tour
of Latin America to strengthen his country's economic and political ties
in the region. Kamynin said trade between Russia and the island would
top $400 million this year.
Washington's nearly 50-year-old trade embargo prohibits U.S. companies
from investing on the island. But Cuba's state-run oil concern has
signed joint operating agreements with companies from several countries
to explore waters that Cuban scientists claim could contain reserves of
up to 20 billion barrels of oil.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Cuba in October
for the signing of agreements allowing state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA
to invest $8 million initially for a seven-year, deep-water exploration
project north of the famed beach resort of Varadero. If reserves are
confirmed, Brazil would produce oil and natural gas recovered there over
the next 25 years.
Opciones did not give details on what the Russian proposals would entail.
The Soviet Union was communist Cuba's chief economic benefactor until it
disbanded, throwing the island's economy into disarray. Cuba-Russia
relations soured after that, but warmed when President Vladimir Putin
visited in 2000.