Cuba - Repsol's Cuba drilling rig complies with safety standards
10 January 2012
Source: Wall Street Journal
10 Jan 2012
U.S. officials said Monday a rig operated by Spain's Repsol YPF
that is expected to drill offshore Cuba in the coming months
complies with international and U.S. safety standards.
'U.S. personnel found the vessel to generally comply with
existing international and U.S. standards by which Repsol has
pledged to abide,' the Bureau of Safety and Environmental
Enforcement said in the press release. The agency, however, noted
that the vessel review 'does not confer any form of certification
or endorsement under U.S. or international law' and that the U.S.
has no legal or regulatory authority over the rig.
The vessel, named Scarabeo 9, was inspected off the coast of
Trinidad and Tobago and it will begin drilling a deep-water oil
well later this year about 100 kms off the Florida Keys.
Repsol, which does business in the U.S., had agreed to let U.S.
federal regulators inspect the rig before it enters Cuban waters.
The rig's review was aimed at minimizing the possibility of a major
oil spill, which would hurt U.S. economic and environmental
interests, the regulatory agency said.
While aboard the Scarabeo 9, U.S. officials reviewed vessel
construction, drilling equipment, and safety systems--including
lifesaving and firefighting equipment, emergency generators,
dynamic positioning systems, machinery spaces, and the blowout
preventer, according to agency.
In anticipation of increased drilling activities in the
Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. is in discussions with the
Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico on a broad range of issues,
including drilling safety, ocean modeling, and oil spill
preparedness and response, in order to reduce the impact of a major
pollution incident, the agency said.
Cuba has little experience with offshore oil exploration. In
2004, Cuba drilled a deep-water well, which received little notice.
Since then, the U.S. Geological Survey has said there could be a
substantial amount of untapped oil off the Cuban coast. Cuba could
sell the oil or use it to reduce imports from Venezuela.
The Repsol well is much closer to Florida than any other well in
the region. The Gulf of Mexico is home to a big concentration of
oil-industry support vessels and equipment, including new
technology designed after the Deepwater Horizon spill to cap deep
out-of-control wells, but because of a longstanding trade embargo,
little of that could be used to fight a spill in Cuban waters.
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