US, Cuba to discuss co-op in oil spill prevention

Updated: 2011-09-09 14:34


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HAVANA - The United States and Cuba should work together to ensure that safety is maintained for off-shore exploration of Cuban oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, a senior US expert said here Thursday.

"Once the Chinese-made oil-rig starts drilling in Cuban waters about November some 96 miles (154 km) from the Florida Keys, the US should offer its knowledge and equipment to Cuba in case of an accident," said William Reilly.

Reilly heads a delegation of US technicians who currently are visiting Cuba to discuss joint measures to prevent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico like the one by British Petroleum (BP) in 2010 which caused a major environmental disaster.

"I think the United States would be profoundly interested in trying to avoid a spill in Cuban waters, and in case of an accident all US government bodies and private entities should take all efforts to assist in a response," he said.

Reilley was a co-director of a commission appointed by US President Barack Obama to study measures to prevent further oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP accident.

A new oil drilling rig built in China, the Scarabeo 9, will be fully operational in Cuban waters in November when it arrives after an 80-day voyage from Singapore.

The platform is expected to operate at a depth of more than 1,524 meters and is capable of working at a depth of up to 3,600 meters, according to official information.

Officials at the state-owned Cubapetroleo (CUPET) company said all drillings in Cuban waters will take place in line with the US environmental regulations due to concerns raised after the BP spill.

Cuba, 230 km from Florida, prevented US oil companies from participating in exploration projects because of the US economic embargo against it.