With the thaw in US-Cuba relations, oil industry leaders and experts from both countries are planning a symposium on offshore drilling safety practices in Havana in October. It would also include participants from other countries in the region.
The 50-plus-years trade embargo is still largely in place so there is no short-term prospect of US firms being involved in fields offshore Cuba.
But the gathering, under the banner “Safe Seas – Clean Seas”, will work on establishing uniform environmental and safety policies for offshore drilling throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
As things stand most US firms with expertise in oil spill cleanup would be embargoed from assisting any such event in Cuban waters. Only about five percent of American firms would possess special US government licences allowing them to work in Cuba or with Cuban businesses.
Cuba has three producing offshore oil fields within 5 km of its north coast and its state oil company Cupet has worked previously with firms from other countries such as Spain’s Repsol-YPF, Malaysia’s Petronas, Russia’s Gazpromneft and Angola’s Sonangol.