A recent U.S. Geological Survey says there could be 5 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves in the north Cuba basin. As Cuba finally taps its oil reserves, the U.S. claim they are ‘unprepared for spill’

William Booth
Washington Post
March 1, 2012

As energy companies from Spain, Russia and Malaysia line up to drill for oil in Cuban waters 60 miles from the Florida Keys, U.S. agencies are struggling to cobble together emergency plans to protect fragile reefs, sandy beaches and a multibillion-dollar tourism industry in the event of a spill.

Drawing up contingency plans to confront a possible spill is much more difficult because of the economic embargo against Cuba. U.S. law bars most American companies — including oil services and spill containment contractors — from conducting business with the communist island. The embargo, now entering its 50th year, also limits direct government-to-government talks.

In the vacuum, a Coast Guard admiral in Miami and a dozen technocrats from Cuba and the United States have begun to quietly engage in an awkward partnership of necessity to protect their coastlines, separated by politics but united by the mighty Gulf Stream.

“This is a case of Cold War ideology colliding with 21st-century environmental policy, and it is the environment that is at risk,” said Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

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