Oil production and prospecting was confirmed last week as one of the activities in which Cuba is most interested in the participation of foreign capital. Scores of companies from 15 countries came to the 2017 Cuba Oil & Gas Summit in Havana attracted by the geological studies pinning hopes on new discoveries in oil areas of Cuban northern coast.
Organised by the International Research Networks (IRN) in coordination with the Cuba-Petróleo Conglomerate (CUPET), the meeting analysed the investment opportunities in this country’s oil industry, its characteristics and capacities. The presentations by CUPET officials included the explanation of prospecting and production projects, the oil refining industry and the petrochemical market, in addition to studying the legal framework to invest in the country.
Some 70 companies from China, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Canada, India, Spain, United Kingdom and Venezuela, among other countries, met for two days in the Tryp Habana Libre Hotel and visited oil installations in Varadero, Matanzas, 180 kilometres to the east of the Cuban capital.
Several experts particularly recognised the potential of the Gulf of Mexico area, bordering with zones where the United States and Mexico have oil well installations.
The director of the CUPET Seismic Processing Centre, José OrlandoLópez Quintero, referred to the geological studies that made it possible to compare Cuba’s types of oil with those of other countries that share the megabasin of the Gulf of Mexico, which have similarities, a common geological history, he said.
Sources from the Energy and Mines Ministry (MINEM) reported that 20 specialised firms from 11 countries are currently holding exploratory talks, including the study of Law 118 on Foreign Investment, which came into force in 2014 and offers financial and tax facilities in order to attract foreign capital to the island.
Peter Strickland, general director of Melbana Energy, an Australian company that entered Cuba in late 2015 through an agreement with CUPET, said he believes that Cuba has a rich natural worth of oil and gas, particularly on land where there are wells, production and existing reserves.
He added that in the offshore sector there has been a small amount of commercially unsuccessful prospecting until now but that it could come in the future since prospecting is a business that implies risks.
A world leading company in geophysics studies services, the Chinese BGP, was among the participants. It is working jointly with CUPET in offshore prospecting, with results that its general director, Xing Hongjai, described as encouraging.
“This seismic study we are carrying out in some 25,000 kilometres around Cuba is being done with new technologies and software,” Xing said. “It is close to 70 per cent complete and is showing very good images and potential for the discovery of oil. The data show that we can help CUPET to find oil,” added the director of BGP, ascribed to the China National Oil Corporation.
Xing explained that the discovery of oil deposits in the Caribbean nation can benefit the entire region.
The manager of the Mexican Oil Institute, Sergio Edgard Sánchez Morrill, also expressed his satisfaction with the results of the meeting, the Cuban oil potential and Cuba’s opening to the rest of the world for the prospecting of its blocks. He said that his institute is interested in a technological exchange with CUPET in order to promote joint projects and capitalise on the experiences of both entities.
Cuba obtains the gross of its oil and gas production – close to four million tons – in the Northern Strip of Heavy Crudes, an area of 750 square kilometres between Havana and Varadero. But studies and prospecting operations are setting their sights on the Cuban triangle of the Gulf of Mexico, to the north of the westernmost province of Pinar del Río.
Cuban Energy and Mines Deputy Minister Rubén Cid Carbonell said to the guests that energy independence is the principal aim of the development program for the use of all available energy sources, just like the boom in the oil industry and the use of associated natural gas. (2017)
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