Russia signs oil pact, offers $150M credit to Cuba
HAVANA -- Russia and Cuba signed agreements to search for oil in the
Gulf of Mexico, and Moscow extended the island $150 million in credit
for construction materials and farm machinery, state media said Wednesday.
The credit will give Cuba more time to pay for Russian equipment shipped
to areas most affected by three hurricanes that caused more than $10
billion in damage last summer.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin signed the agreement,
according to the Cuban government's AIN news agency. Russian media
reported that Sechin met with Cuban President Raul Castro, but Cuba's
press did not mention a meeting.
The four accords with oil monopoly Cubapetroleo will let Russian concern
Zarubezhneft explore for crude in deep waters off Cuba's coast, though
details were sparse.
Zarubezhneft and other Russian companies signed a memorandum of
understanding in Moscow in January pledging to help Cubapetroleo with
prospecting, production, refining and other oil activities.
Cuba's domestic production is exclusively heavy oil with a high sulfur
content. Its offshore Gulf waters could contain large quantities of
lighter, sweet crude - although a test well in 2004 turned up only
The government has said it will team with foreign partners to begin
exploration soon in deeper waters, although it has not announced a date.
Cuba began offering 59 blocks in the Gulf to private interests for
exploration in 1999.
The Soviet Union provided billions of dollars in trade and annual
subsidies to communist ally Cuba before its 1991 collapse, and the
Kremlin has moved to rebuild old ties recently.
Russia signs oil pact, offers $150M credit to Cuba - World AP -
MiamiHerald.com (30 July 2009)