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Cuba to produce six million tons of oil by 2005
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2001
Source : Granma International

THE process going on in Cuba of prospecting and drilling for oil has converted the country, within a few short years, into an important leader in the application of modern technologies in that field, stated Minister of Basic Industry Marcos Portal at the inauguration of the 4th Cuban Congress on Geology and Mining, attended by 146 researchers and specialists from 18 countries.


Over two days, the conference evaluated the exceptional oil prospects in the Cuban archipelago, where intensive risk exploration is under way in 20 blocks of its territory, contracted by companies from France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Sweden and Spain. The participation of these companies not only reflects the possibilities of oil reserves in the country, but also confidence in Cuba, Portal emphasized.

Deposits mentioned included those of Puerto Escondido, where the country’s largest discovery of the so-called black gold in the last five years was made, and which annually contributes some 100,000 tons from its 12 wells in exploitation.

Puerto Escondido is, together with Varadero and the Boca de Jaruco area, a focal point for oil drilling in Cuba and the use of the accompanying gas during the extraction of this resource.

In the northern territory of the island, 150 oil wells are to be perforated after intense investigations into the subsoil, using the application of the three-dimensional seismology and horizontal perforation, the most advanced techniques in the field of oil prospecting, which has made it possible to complete well perforations in 30 days.

At the same time they are gaining a higher yield from the older wells in exploitation, by applying new technology in the extraction operation.

The island’s northern strip, where deep geological and geophysical investigation has been going on for years, is precisely the key to immediate oil development. The target for 2005 is an annual production of six million tons of oil equivalent, given that the use of accompanying gas is also calculated. This volume, together with the economic benefits it signifies, constitutes a contribution to environmental improvements in the prospecting fields and exploitation of the hydrocarbons.

These calculations do not include the results of exploration in the southeastern areas of the Gulf of Mexico, where Cuba has offered 59 blocks of 2,000 square kilometers each for negotiations, six of which have already been contracted with a further four under negotiation, as was announced at the event. It is a highly interesting zone, surrounded by areas where oil is currently being extracted by both the United States and Mexico.

Furthermore, calculations for this year estimate that Cuban production will reach 3.4 million tons of oil equivalent. "We are only extracting 7% of what lies in the subsoil and in spite of that we have already exceeded three million tons," Portal affirmed.


The minister of basic industry noted that they had managed to keep tourist areas clear of environmental contamination. He noted that it was possible to separate sulfur from the accompanying gas which, together with the economic benefits, creates a pleasant environment in oil-drilling areas in the vicinity of Varadero.

He mentioned the construction of processing plants and pipelines to collect the accompanying gas and utilize it in production and services that are currently benefiting one million people in City of Havana, in addition to supplies to the Habana del Este electricity plant, plus contributions from Energas, which recovers that oil-related resource for the national electrical energy network. Portal also referred to the execution of the first two combined cycles which are increasing the exploitation of energy from this resource.

In the report to conference delegates, Portal spoke of the impact of the disappearance of the socialist bloc on Cuban basic industry, detailing the gradual recovery in the spheres of oil, nickel plus cobalt and the electrical industry, sectors in which more than $2 billion USD have been invested overall.

In relation to the electrical industry, it was announced that in the current year Cuban crude will be used for 90% of plant operations, which require more than two million tons of hydrocarbons. Within this sector the 500-megawatt plant at Felton, in eastern Cuba, was constructed with an investment of $500 million USD.

In parallel, thermoelectric plants based on Russian and Czech technology have been modernized and two combined cycle electricity plants using the accompanying gas in Varadero and Jaruco, in the north of the island, are under construction. They will supply the national network with 400 megawatts. The state has invested more than $1 billion USD over the last eight years in the industry’s revival.

He noted that electrical power no longer is a brake on the country’s economic and social development; service to the population has improved; and the technological assimilation of heavy national crude by electricity generating plants and others has been resolved. It was likewise announced that 100% of the island’s cement is produced with domestic fuel.

In terms of nickel plus cobalt, it was confirmed that the Pedro Sotto Alba and Che Guevara plants in the eastern area of Moa have been consolidated. Both are exceeding their design capacity with a high productive efficiency, and a notably increased productivity in comparison with 1989. In that way, the sector has reached top international levels.

In 2000, Cuba supplied 10% of the world’s cobalt; it is the sixth most important nickel-producing country and it established a national production record with 71,400 tons. In addition, in the last decade the market has recovered, in the wake of the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist bloc.

Over the last five years, over $400 million USD has been invested in this industry.

Cuba’s nickel plus cobalt was controlled by the United States 42 years ago and in 1989 it was basically purchased by the Soviet Union. Now, neither the United States nor Russia buy it and the island sells to 30 countries, meaning that we have recouped that market, which is giving the country more vitality and the security of not depending on a sole buyer, Portal affirmed.


Granma Internacional es una publicación editada en La Habana.Cuba.
Avenida General Suárez y Territorial.
Plaza de la Revolución José Martí.
Apartado Postal 6260 C.P.
100699 Telex: 00511-355 y 0511-221
Fax: (53-7) 33-5176 y 33-5826
Teléfono: 81-6265 y 81-7443
Pizarra: 81 3333 ext 19 y 23

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© Andrew Wigglesworth 2000, 2001