Cuba, Russia Sign Oil Exploration Agreements

In Havana Wednesday Cuban and Russian officials signed four international economic association contracts for hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation in discoveries that might be made north of the central and western part of the country.

These documents were signed by Nikolai Bunich, director of the oil company Zarubezeneft, and Fidel Rivero, director of the Cuban Petroleum Union, in the presence of Basic Industries Minister Yadira Garcia and Ivan S. Materov, vice minister for industry and trade of the Russian Federation.

The initial investigation work and subsequent drilling and exploration will be carried out in four blocks located in northern Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Villa Clara, and Matanzas, and both sides agreed to begin as soon as possible, once the timetable has been defined.

In statements to the press, Yadira Garcia described the contracts as being "very important, because they allow us to continue investigating our oil areas, this time with a very qualified company like Zarubezeneft, from Russia."

The minster stated that Cuban crude oil "is characterized by being heavy, but in the areas where work will be done we have a better outlook in terms of its quality and that of the associated gas, considering the use we give it in Cuba for electricity generation."

She noted that seven foreign oil firms are working in the island in crude oil exploration and extraction on land and offshore.

Sources from the Basic Industries Ministry commented that they include Petro Vietnam, Petrobras (from Brazil), and PDVSA (from Venezuela).
The contracts were signed in the Russian Federation's pavilion at the 27th International Fair of Havana, in Exopcuba, where Vice Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment Orlando Hernandez and Ivan S. Materov reiterated their interest in strengthening and diversifying trade ties between the two countries.

BBC Monitoring. Copyright BCC.