The Same "New" Story of Cuba Drilling

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on oil drilling in the foreign Outer Continental Shelf.

As expected, Cuba and the heralded (re-)drilling plans of Spain's Repsol with the Castro regime took center stage.

But what really stood out was the testimony of Paul Schuler from the oil spill response cooperative, Clean Caribbean and Americas, who explained:

"In the past 20 years CCA has responded to a number of spills in the Caribbean, Latin America and North America. We have been involved with Cuba since 2001, when we first applied for and received licenses from the Department of Treasury and Department of Commerce to travel to and export our equipment to Cuba. This was in response to drilling that took place by Repsol and Petrobras. CCA staff, including myself, have traveled to Cuba for Contingency Planning, training, and drills and exercises with these companies. With the new round of drilling coming up, we have recently been back to Cuba to work with Repsol and Petronas."

That's right -- since 2001.

So why these "new" (and head-scratching) headlines that the "Embargo Will Limit U.S. Oversight of Planned Oil Drilling Off Cuba Coast"?

Because as Reuters reported back in 2006: "Havana is eager to see American oil companies join forces with the anti-embargo lobby led by U.S. farmers who have been selling food to Cuba for four years."

It apparently works -- we've already seen Halliburton increase its Cuba anti-sanctions lobbying this year.

Let's not forget that -- for over a decade -- the "spectre" of oil drilling has been a geo-political tool used by Cuba's dictatorship.

The Castro regime has used it to extort the Brazilian government into shunning pro-democracy activists and to create a China-drilling scare (which never materialized) in the U.S.

Meanwhile, commercially, Repsol's previous Cuba drilling effort (in 2004) was unsuccessful and the most credible non-U.S. regional oil companies -- Brazil's Petrobras and Canada's Sherritt -- pulled out of Cuba (in 2011 and 2008, respectively) saying it wasn't a viable venture.

But apparently that's "old" news.