Is drilling 60 miles off
the coast of
BY ANY STANDARD
THIS IS A STRANGE STORY.
The greatest environmental catastrophe of our
time — the BP oil spill in the
We were lucky, however, because the actual impact was much less than it could have been. But we came perilously close to a major meltdown.
As is the case with most things of this nature, the BP disaster prompted a lot of discussion about the safety of drilling and how we, as a nation, should balance the need for energy and the demands of protecting the environment.
So, it seems more than odd that now a new drilling controversy has erupted, although few seem to know that it even exists.
The basic facts are this: The Chinese (with
60 miles from
Companies based in the
“This is a mess, both from an environmental standpoint and a geopolitical standpoint,” says Mark Glavine, a former State Department official who specialized in international environmental issues. “The oil could be just what is needed to prop up the Castro regime financially. And we have no assurances that this consortium of various multinational companies will adhere to strict safety standards.”
According to reports from
What so perplexes so many people is why the Obama administration is not fighting more vigorously to stop this venture.
“Truthfully, there is probably only so much (the administration) can do,” says Mr. Glavine. “But this sends an odd mixture of signals. Sometimes, you just have to make a symbolic show to make your point.”
“I have been causing grief to the State Department,” insists William Reilly, who headed the EPA under George H.W. Bush. Mr. Reilly has said that Cuba’s oil exploration is “something that’s very important to us, I think, given that they are drilling 60 miles off Key West, so I’ve asked to be invited to Cuba to talk about the report and have had my wrist slapped by the administration for raising the sensitive Cuban issue. I had to say, ‘I don’t work for you.’”
State officials have voiced apprehension about the proposed drilling.
“The concern I do have off the island of Cuba
— the Chinese are in the process of putting rigs there, with support of the
Cuban people, at least the Cuban government,” Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos said recently. “My guess is that (
Those who feel less threatened by the proposed drilling say it is time that we softened our stance toward Cuba, and others who would like to see more drilling — regardless of who is doing it — say we need energy from any source we can get it.
Proponents of the Cuban drilling say American oil companies could eventually profit from the deal. This could happen because the amount of oil is so vast, it is likely that, at some point, the resources of American oil giants will be needed to help the foreign companies who are operating so far from their home bases.
According to estimates from “Petroleumworld,” a trade publication, “there are anywhere
between 5 and 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil in
The publication also stated : “It will take years to develop this, and Americans are on paper the best placed to profit from this oil bonanza, as producers and consumers.”
While many fear the potential oil boom will
prop up Castro’s regime and perhaps even turn
“I’m no fan of the Castro regime,” writes
Andres Cala, a writer specializing in energy matters.
“But the embargo continues to be a useless firewall. And as
exploratory drilling starts near
That may be an overly optimistic view.
The arrival of the massive Chinese oil rig has
been delayed. It was scheduled to arrive in Cuban waters in November, but it
now appears it will be in place in late December. If that is the case, actual
drilling could begin sometime in January. Cuban officials say the initial well
will go down 5,600 feet.
As things stand now,
Thirty-four members of the U.S. House of
Representatives have put the Cubans and their drilling partners on notice. In a
letter to the Spanish firm Repsol, the members of
congress noted that Repsol does business in the
The U.S. Coast Guard will be allowed to
inspect the rig in an effort to alleviate concerns about its safety and
reliability. But even with that, environmentalist say it makes little sense to
allow foreign drillers to operate at roughly 60 miles from the
As one news report observed, if there is a
blowout similar to the BP disaster in the Cuban drilling zone,
When oil is discovered, it will take at least
three years for production to begin. And if there is an environmental disaster
along the lines of the BP spill, just 60 miles from
Indeed, this is a strange story by any standard.