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Cuba harvests oil off Florida coast

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Steve Chiotakis:In the next few weeks, a Spanish company will begin exploring for oil in the deep waters off the coast of Cuba. U.S. personnel checked the oil rig out to make sure it complies with American standards. It does… but that’s not stopping some people from worrying about a worst-case scenario — and Cuba from looking at big dividends.

Here’s Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler.

Jeff Tyler: The oil wells will be drilled thousands of feet beneath the sea. And even though they are about 70 miles from Florida, the oil wells will be in Cuban waters. That presents a challenge in case of an emergency.

Michael Lynch: The fact that we do not have good relations with Cuba makes any coordination during an oil spill more difficult. 

Michael Lynch is president of the consultancy — Strategic Energy & Economic Research. He says the Spanish oil company Repsol has a good reputation for safety.

Lynch: I don’t think we would be under any special threat. Especially given the fact that this is a world-class company doing the drilling.

How much oil are we talking about? Paul Weimer is a geology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Paul Weimer: It ranges in the several billion barrel range.

At today’s prices, one billion barrels of oil is worth more than $100 billion. But Weimer says that fortune won’t materialize overnight. It typically takes six to 10 years to get newly discovered oil to market.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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