Cuba is the only country in the world to have already learned how to live with the end of the age of oil. After the US oil embargo of Cuba, the country had to fend for itself, creating an almost completely oil-free economy.
The blockaded nation went on to radically reinvent agriculture, and evolved a fix-it economy that rivaled that of the US during the Great Depression. Mechanics learned the skills needed to fix up the old 1950s cars that remained on the island, miraculously keeping them going on the occasional trickle of oil, for decades after they had become mere museum pieces in the US.
But now, in an ironic turn of events, nearly 5 billion barrels of oil is likely to be in the bedrock off Cuba’s north coast, according to US Geological Survey estimates. This will be enough to make the island a major energy player in the region, according to Ordons News. Cuba’s own geological studies find there might be as much as 20 billion barrels. Petrobras withdrew its plans to drill there recently, suggesting that the lower estimate is the more accurate figure.
The first exploratory drilling is planned, just 60 miles off the Florida coast. The Swedish company Repsol, in a consortium with Norway’s Statoil and a unit of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp, plans to start drilling offshore Cuba by the end of the summer.
Oil companies from Malaysia, Norway, India and several other nations have also signed exploratory drilling agreements, and Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said during a Havana visit recently that his country stands ready to help.
The US, not so much. A conference in Washington last month on safe drilling practices included most of the oil-drilling nations of the world. Cuba was not invited. The oil blockade that President Kennedy set in place, lingers on. But this development is sure to change the equation.
“The question is how you minimize the risk, and there’s only one way to minimize the risk, and that is to have the kind of collaboration with Cuba that we have with Mexico or the Bahamas or any other country that is exploring for oil in a way that is potentially damaging to the US,” John McAuliff, Fund for Reconciliation and Development told Ordons.
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