No deal yet for Gulf drilling near Cuba’s coast

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by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

U.S. officials have talked with Repsol over the Spanish oil company’s plans to begin drilling off the coast of Cuba later this year, but there is no deal yet to ensure that work meets the same standards it would if it happened in U.S. waters.

“We have talked with Repsol, and we anticipate talking to them again,” said Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. “But there are no agreements.”

U.S. drilling regulators have been meeting with their counterparts in Mexico in hopes of hammering out a single uniform standard for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. But Cuba — the third country with territorial waters in the Gulf — has not been part of those discussions.

Repsol has said it plans to begin drilling a well as soon as this summer in Cuban waters. Other international oil companies have lined up drilling in the region after Repsol’s first well, including Malaysia’s Petronas and India’s ONGC Videsh. Cuban officials have said five wells could be drilled in the country’s Gulf of Mexico territory this summer.

“Everyone has an interest in there being the highest standards possible that are observed in all of the drilling offshore, in all three countries that co-own the Gulf of Mexico,” Bromwich told reporters on a conference call. “That would certainly be desirable, but finding the mechanism to do that is tricky and needs to be explored further.”

The presidential commission that investigated last year’s Gulf oil spill stressed the importance of harmonizing international drilling standards — since oceans and floating oil don’t respect sovereign boundaries. Companies “ought to have the same standards wherever they are operating,” William Reilly, a commission co-chairman, said earlier this week.

Drilling regulators and energy officials from more than a dozen countries are set to address the issue during an international offshore drilling summit on April 14.

( Original Article )

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Posted on April 8, 2011, in Cuba, Drilling, Mexico, Oil & Gas - offshore, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on No deal yet for Gulf drilling near Cuba’s coast.

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