Canadian Firm Plans to Export Cuban Reserves

A Canadian energy company plans to export the reserves from Cuba's oil boom, a plan that could complicate the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Sherritt International already produces an estimated 68,000 barrels of crude oil in Cuba. Following record earnings last year, the company said that this year it "plans to export a portion of its Cuban production as a consequence of anticipated production growth and limited demand for domestic heavy oil."

Cuba is modernizing its oil exploration and production capacity in preparation for its offshore drilling plans that could yield huge amounts of oil and natural gas.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated two years ago that Cuba can lay claim to 4.6 billion barrels of oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the ocean floor that spans between the country and the United States (Greenwire, Feb. 22).

The company said it will take every precaution to make sure the oil does not enter the United States. "We respect U.S. law," Michael Minnes, the company spokesman, said from Sherritt's Toronto headquarters. "We have no intention of selling it into a situation that would affect the embargo."

Sherritt International, in a joint venture with the Cuban government, has been drilling for oil in Cuba for more than a decade. The proposal drew fire from U.S. lawmakers, especially in Florida.

"Sherritt is on the 'short list' of companies that will have very serious civil as well as criminal legal problems in Cuba when the Cuban people recover their sovereignty and have a government that fights for their rights," said Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) in a statement. "Their oil investments will involve but a small part of their legal problems once the rule of law returns to Cuba" (Jane Bussey, Miami Herald, March 2).

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