Cuba has invited Japan to invest in its oil industry, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday as the communist-ruled island intends to begin drilling early next year in its offshore economic zone.
Havana's ambassador to Tokyo Jose Fernandez de Cossio "signified Cuba's interest in Japanese companies participating as partners in various aspects of the country's high-priority oil industry," the ministry said on its website cubaminrex.cu.
Addressing a recent Tokyo seminar including some 70 representatives of Japanese companies, Fernandez de Cossio spoke of the "real potential of Cuba's petroleum industry" and stressed that "a legal framework exists in which Japanese firms can find business opportunities," the ministry said.
Cuba manages a zone of some 112,000 square kilometers (43,000 square miles) in the Gulf of Mexico. Of the zone's 59 blocks, 22 are under contract with Norway's Statoil, which has formed a consortium to exploit the blocks with Spain's Repsol, OVL of India and PDVSA of Venezuela, among others.
According to state-owned Cubapetroleo, the island and its foreign partners will begin next year drilling five wells in the gulf, where Cuba estimates its zone contains some 20 billion barrels of oil.
Cuba's 2010 onshore and offshore production totaled 21.4 million barrels, representing nearly half the island's energy needs. It imports the rest from its closest regional ally Venezuela, which provides Cuba with some 100,000 barrels per day, at cut-rate prices.
Source: AFP Asian Edition