U.S. Policy of Hatred Backfires
|May 15, 2006||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
U.S. Policy of Hatred Backfires
Oops, Cuba Has Oil Reserves
Whether society is high-tech or low-tech, you still need access to natural resources. Now a big fight is heating up as an embarrassed U.S. realizes that Cuba controls a lot of oil.
Here are excerpts from an article being circulated by evworld.com and originally appearing in Newsday (U.S.).
The United States, Cuba, China and India may soon be embroiled in a nasty conflict over oil to be drilled in the Florida Straits. With oil prices soaring, the vast underwater oil and gas fields just off the Cuban coast, on each side of the international line dividing the straits, are beckoning — and setting off an energy race that could stir up political tensions with unforeseeable consequences. Not to mention that drilling along the shared continental shelf could demolish U.S. environmental protections dating back more than two decades.
What’s already precipitating congressional furor on Capitol Hill are plans by Chinese and Indian companies to drill in fields recently leased to them by the Cuban government. These plans could trigger an invidious competition for oil extracted from the continental shelf, with Cuba getting off the first shot in what could degenerate into a conflict of major powers over a strategic commodity. China and India ought to reconsider their moves to secure exclusive sources of petroleum, a commodity that should be traded openly on the world’s free markets. Cuba has opened a barn door that will be hard to close. Canadian and Spanish companies are already bidding for their own leases.
What’s infuriating some legislators is that U.S. firms were invited to bid on the Cuban leases, but were prevented from doing so by the absurd Cold War-era economic embargo of communist Cuba. Other legislators instead fear that drilling in the Florida Straits would moot the environmental considerations that have kept most of the U.S. continental shelf off limits for drilling since the early 1980s.
That threat is real. The oil and gas fields in question are huge and straddle the border geologically. On Cuba’s side alone, fields are estimated to hold nearly 5 billion barrels of oil and close to 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But the fields are so close to the international line that they might as well be in U.S. waters. In 1977, the United States and Cuba signed a treaty to divide the straits evenly to preserve each nation’s economic rights. Now Cuba is exercising its option to exploit those rights, but U.S. law bars drilling on the American side.
Brace for a spate of punitive bills in Congress. Last week, 14 House members, 11 of them from Florida, filed a bill aimed at blocking Cuba from leasing the fields, echoing an earlier Senate bill. The measures would deny visas to employees of any company “that contributes to the development of Cuba’s oil-exploration program.” It’s hard to see what perceptible effects these bills will have. But they hint at the battles to come over growing competition for oil.
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