Cuba ‘gears up for exploration programme’

22 October 2015, News Wires – Cuba plans to drill exploration wells in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico by early 2017, according to a report.

Cupet of CubaOsvaldo Lopez, head of exploration at state-controlled Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet), told Reuters that the company “will initiate a drilling campaign” at the end of 2016 or the start of 2017.

“The essential goal of the new drilling campaign is at least two deep wells. There could be three. If there is a discovery there certainly will be more than two,” Lopez told the news wire.

Cupet plans on drilling wells as deep as 7000 metres (23,000 feet) in waters as deep as 3000 metres through production sharing contracts with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and Angola’s Sonangol, Reuters reported.

The news comes as offshore explorers battle depressed crude prices that have hit drilling and services companies especially hard, as well as exploration budgets.

But the relaxing of US-Cuba relations could drive more rigs the island nation’s way, while the allure of potentially billions of barrels of oil off the country’s north-west coast could entice more activity.

“We are working with several companies interested in studying the possibilities, but the price of oil makes these processes drag out a bit longer since companies cut their budgets,” Cupet deputy director Roberto Suarez told Reuters.

Cupet will also decide among several offers for seismic testing from companies such as France’s CGG and Norway’s Spectrum in the next four to five months, Suarez said.

Cupet’s drilling plans would attempt to reverse previous failures in drilling offshore Cuba.

A closely-watched three-well deep-water campaign in 2012 by Spanish major Repsol, Malaysia’s Petronas and PDVSA found no commercial oil.

Russia’s Zarubezhneft tried its luck in 2013 but delayed its plan after semi-submersible Songa Mercur rig was hit by a blowout preventer problem.

And in 2011, Brazil’s Petrobras ditched a block off Cuba acquired in 2008, citing what it called “poor prospectivity”.

 – Upstream
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