Cuba Insists It Has Oil; US Companies Still Uninterested

Reuters

HAVANA, May 6 (Reuters) - Cuba unveiled new data on Wednesday it said confirmed there were billions of barrels of oil beneath its Gulf of Mexico waters but admitted there was little interest in new exploration even with the thaw in U.S. relations.

The United States and Cuba have vowed to restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of animosity, but the comprehensive U.S. trade embargo remains in place.

While U.S. tourism, transportation and agriculture companies position themselves for Cuban business, oil companies have proven less eager since three exploratory wells came up dry in 2012. Low oil prices and new opportunities in Mexico's liberalized oil sector are also seen depressing interest.

"Despite the opening we haven't encountered U.S. company interest," Pedro Sorzano, commercial director of state oil monopoly CubaPetroleo (Cupet), told reporters at Cuba's annual geological sciences convention.

Cuba hopes the discovery of oil offshore will free it from dependence on other countries, such as socialist ally Venezuela currently and the Soviet Union previously.

Cupet Exploration Director Rafael de Jesus Tenreyro said the new data would be presented at various international events.

"The study confirms the zone's potential," he said.


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