America’s ban on drilling does not apply
By Alyssa Tremblay
Cuba recently announced that it will begin offshore drilling to build new oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico as of next year.
“The discovery of potential deep-water oil and gas reserves off Cuba’s northern coast has caught the eye of the world’s energy-hungry nations” such as China, Venezuela, India and the US, BBC News reported.
However, scientists warn that a spill from one of these new wells could “send oil spewing onto Cuban beaches and then the Florida Keys in as little as three days,” the New York Times reported, continuing to state that the oil could easily “flow up the coast to Miami and beyond” if it reached the powerful Gulf Stream ocean current.
Fears over a spill are rising due to Cuba’s relatively young and inexperienced oil industry, which, in a crisis situation, would be “far less prepared to handle a major spill than even the American industry was at the time of the BP spill,” the New York Times stated.
Cuba’s close proximity to the US has led to American companies asking permission to participate in these potentially dangerous new drilling projects, if only to provide help and expertise.
The US government, which recently imposed several new laws banning off-shore drilling in American waters in the Gulf of Mexico, is hesitant to approve such requests, due to a 44-year-old restriction which prevents trade with Cuba. The trade embargo was created in 1959 to put pressure on the communist Cuban government to move towards democratization and greater respect for human rights.
Analysts also worry that any opening into Cuba’s economy could “provide a convenient wedge for big American oil companies that have quietly lobbied Congress for years to allow them to bid for oil and natural gas deposits in waters off Cuba,” the New York Times said.
This news comes five months after the infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in which a drilling rig explosion led to a sea-floor well leaking out an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil for three months. The “largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry,” the BP oil spill has killed thousands of animals and inflicted long-lasting damage on the Gulf of Mexico`s ecosystem, according to Wikipedia.