Did Cuba’s Plan to Drill Near Florida Prompt President’s Pivot on Offshore Oil and Gas?

by Jackie Moreau on January 31, 2012

in Blog

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While Republican Party candidates face a political drilling in the Florida primaries, Florida prepares for the offshore drilling by a Spanish company just miles away from its coastline, courtesy of our embargoed neighbor to the South.  Cuba has signed lease agreements for offshore drilling blocks with six nations in the North Cuba Basin, a body of water within the Cuban Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that is believed to harbor at least 4.6 billion barrels of crude oil.  Five of the six companies are owned by foreign countries: India, Venezuela, Malaysia, Vietnam and Angola.  Spanish-based Repsol, the single private company, will drill one exploratory well in the North Cuba Basin, called the Jaguey Prospect, lying about 55 to 60 miles south of Key West, FL.  It owns a 40% share in the newest exploratory well, while India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Norway’s Statoil each hold a 30% stake.  Repsol has contracted the Italian-owned Scarabeo-9, a mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU), to drill the Jaguey well.

In March 2010, President Obama introduced a plan for drilling to take place 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf coastline. Only weeks later, the President’s offshore drilling proposal was shelved due to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Since then, the administration has been largely hostile to existing deep water drilling offshore in American waters—first, it imposed a de jure moratorium, and, after that, it imposed a de facto moratorium via bureaucratic foot dragging.

In a surprise move, the President seemed to pivot on offshore drilling policy in last Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. Specifically, he announced a plan to open 75 % of potential offshore oil and gas reserves. Details of the plan are still scarce, so we still don’t know what it entails exactly. One must wonder if the President’s wind of change was prompted by the fact that companies from five nations are drilling for oil and gas in such close proximity to Florida.

Robert of Ottawa January 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm

The POTUS just mouthed words provided by the TOTUS at the SOTU; nothing will happen unless he gets desperate in this election year.

Daniel February 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

President Obama’s reference to “opening 75% of potential oil and gas reserves” is a chimera. This is precisely how Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar described his new plan for the next 5 years of offshore leasing which effectively leaves in place the ocs moratorium that was lifted in 2008.
Here’s the trick….the reason he can say they’re opening 75% of the resources is because the only place the government has any information about resources is in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico where drilling has taken place for over 60 years. 85% of the OCS in the lower 48 and huge amounts of Alaska have never been looked at for decades. If you can’t look, you can’t find. And they won’t let us look.
Like most everything else regarding energy and the Obama Administration, think Van Jones. It ain’t about energy; it’s about power.

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