Cuba: Scarabeo 9 off Trinidad & Tobago

Source:┬áTrinidad & Tobago”s Newsday

CUBAN oil rig Scarabeo 9 has arrived in TT, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine confirmed yesterday adding that he was advised by officials from Spanish energy company Repsol YPF that Scarabeo 9 arrived on Christmas Eve and the rig is currently located off the coast of Chaguaramas and is expected to remain there for a two week period for inspection. Repsol is the client of the rig.

Newsday exclusively reported on December 11 that the rig would be coming to TT while it was en route to Cuba. On December 12, a statement issued by the United States Embassy in Port-of- Spain said, “Repsol has informed the US government of its plans and invited US government officials to observe an emergency drill conducted in Trinidad related to contingency planning for the drilling.

“Repsol offered, and we accepted, the opportunity to embark the rig to inspect equipment and relevant documentation. Such actions are consistent with our ongoing efforts to minimise the possibility of a major oil spill, which would hurt US economic and environmental interests,” the Embassy continued.

Stressing that the US government is focused on protecting its environmental interests, the Embassy stated, “The drilling activity does not require US approvals and will be conducted, in large measure, by companies that do not operate in the United States.” Ramnarine said he was aware the Cubans would be sending officials to inspect the rig and Repsol personnel would be involved in that exercise.

An article in the Miami Herald on December 24, said Cuba’s plans to use this rig to explore for oil and gas continues to raise red flags.

The part of the article written by Captain Melissa Bert of the US Coast Guard states: “The Scarabeo-9 drilling scenario is a reprise of Deepwater, with similar drilling depth and distance from US shores,and a worst-case discharge even higher than Macondo. An oil blowout in Cuban waters could send crude to the beaches of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.”

Another part of the articles said unlike British Petroleum (BP), “Repsol is not subject to US law.” “Although Repsol has a strong record, it is not accountable to US citizens in a disaster. Another cause for concern is that US sanctions against Cuba prohibit US companies from drilling in Cuba, supplying equipment to or effecting safety regulations in Cuba, or even responding to an oil spill in its waters,” the article said.

After claiming that “Cuba’s pollution response capability is unknown,” the article states that the Cuban government is currently negotiating contracts with Brazil, Russia, China and India to lease major portions of its waters.

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