Given that prospects for an oil find within the Cuban Exclusive Zone in the Gulf of Mexico (ZEE in Spanish) are by no means unlikely, Cuba will renew deep water exploration and drilling in this area in conjunction with foreign partners towards the end of 2016.
This will be the second such project and follows confirmation last year that the results of two and a half years of prospecting and exploration by Venezuelan and Cuban experts indicate that there are potentially vast reserves of oil in the ZEE. Officials from the state-owned CubaPetroleo (Cupet) highlighted the validity of the positive scientific position resulting from the drilling of four wells. Based on this, it was recently announced that drilling to depths in excess of 2,500m will commence in late 2016 and early 2017 with contracted partners PDVSA of Venezuela and Sonangol of Angola, in the part of the Gulf of Mexico that belongs to Cuba.
Cupet company experts have since undertaken a series of seismic tests and electromagnetic and aeromagnetic marine studies. Company management and experts agree that both prospecting and exploring are very complex and costly multi-dynamic activities, which is why an integral body of research is required to promote scientifically based opportunities if these are to be included in the list of business opportunities open to foreign investment.
Specialists also reiterated that the renewed interest and subsequent decisions are based on all the available research, presenting investors with a degree of scientific assurance.
Taking into account this new data and its interpretations, and how best to exploit them, the decision to resume well drilling confirms initial assumptions made fifteen years ago about potential oil reserves within the zone.
Cupet is hoping to discover oil in the 112,000 square kilometer ZEE that is divided into 59 blocks, 11 of which are contracted for joint ventures involving foreign capital. Even with assurances about finding oil, the complex geological profile and the extremely deep waters of the zone present an enormous challenge.
There are some 120 billion (thousand million) recoverable barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that it is one of the world’s greatest sources on a par with North America and the Middle East. The research indicates that the future of marine oil exploration in Cuba lies in the deep and very deep waters of both the ZEE and territorial waters.
There are presently 8 land blocks under contract and a further three under negotiation with companies from Canada, Russia, Venezuela, Australia, Angola, Vietnam and Colombia among others. Given that Cuba is an economically blockaded and underdeveloped nation, this joint venture production model offers a beneficial option for exploring and drilling these as yet undiscovered wells with the potential to bring in employment by foreign companies, fresh capital, modern technology and best exploitation practices.