According to a Dow Jones report, citing Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao, oil giant Petrobras may commence drilling offshore Cuba within a year. Petrobras' International Director, Jorge Luiz Zelada, also confirmed in January that the company is focusing on conducting seismic surveys in Cuban waters.
Brazil and Cuba are still negotiating, the talks of which need to be finalized before the drilling can begin, the report stated. The two countries' state-run companies, Petrobras and Cubapetroleo (Cupet), have already signed a 32-year oil exploration and production agreement, which involves a seven-year exploration pact in Cuba's offshore Block 37, reports Dow Jones.
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This month, U.S. News & World Report noted that the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that fields offshore Cuba may contain roughly 5 billion barrels of oil and 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, although U.S.-embargoed Cuba has proclaimed a more considerable estimate of 20 billion barrels of recoverable crude. Cupet's Exploration Director, Rafael Tenreyro, unveiled Cuba's significant estimate last November.
Political tension between the two countries may explain the dueling numbers since, if Cuba's prediction is accurate, its recoverable reserves will rival that of the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report.
Cuba's Exclusive Economic Zone off its northeast coast stretches some 43,240 square miles (112,000 square kilometers) and consists of 59 offshore blocks. Companies already working within the zone include Repsol-YPF, India's ONGC, PetroVietnam, Malaysia's Petronas and PDVSA.
Petrobras, having acquired petroleum rights in one of the 59 blocks, joins these companies in the hunt for hydrocarbons within an area where experts suggest a commercial discovery could take between three to five years to harness, U.S. News & World Report said.
Moreover, after making a non-commercial oil discovery in 2004, Repsol is set to resume exploratory drilling along with ONGC and StatoilHydro in the second quarter of 2009.
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