Oil Relief in Cuban WatersBy: COHA Research Associate Ryann Bresnahan
As cited in your August 8 article “Pipeline Closure Sends Oil Higher,” BP’s announcement of closing 16 miles of its pipeline in northern Alaska will trigger a $2 surge in the price per barrel. Such developments, along with the continuing instability in the Middle East, are causing the Bush administration to look elsewhere for a temporary reprieve- and offshore Cuba may look tempting.
Armed with news of Fidel Castro’s ailing health and the knowledge that commercial grade deposits of oil may exist in Cuban waters, a prudent White House might entertain economic ties with Havana, tossing out the severe restrictions on trade and allowing U.S. petroleum industries to get their feet wet.
Oil titan Halliburton has lobbied for fewer trade restrictions regarding the island, and companies based in Spain and Canada have established a presence in the region already, as they are carrying out exploratory drillings. Additionally China, Iran, and India have expressed heightened interest in Cuba and its fledgling, yet eagerly sought after petroleum market.
If Washington wishes to help ease the economic burden created by BP’s pipeline fiasco, it could lighten its hard-line stance and its antiquated, non-productive embargo against its Caribbean neighbor. Assuming that oil is to be had in Cuba, the administration needs to initiate talks with Havana before its competitors, such as China, seize control over the existing resources.