HAVANA | Reuters - Cuba has invited Brazil’s state oil giant, Petrobras, to drill for oil offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
Petroleo Brasileiro SA was studying the offer to see if the risk was worth taking, but the idea had the political endorsement of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a Brazilian diplomat said.
“The political will exists, though Petrobras will decide on the basis of risk, convenience and profit, like any commercial operation,” the diplomat told Reuters.
A new Brazilian ambassador, former Workers’ Party legislator Tilden Santiago, presented his credentials on Tuesday to the communist-run government of President Fidel Castro.
Santiago, once a left-wing Roman Catholic priest, said Lula wanted to strengthen political and business ties with Cuba.
Brazilian companies have invested heavily in the cigarette industry and in the assembly of buses in Cuba.
Petrobras spent $15 million in the late 1990s exploring for oil off the north coast of Cuba, near Cayo Coco, but did not find anything and left with an option to come back.
Cuba has found heavy crude and gas on the coast east of Havana, where Canadian firm Sherritt International (Toronto:S.TO - News) is involved in oil drilling and production.
In Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters, Sherritt has contracts for four blocks, and Spain’s Repsol-YPF S.A. (Madrid:REP.MC - News) has six. Repsol has undertaken prospecting and is expected to start drilling at the end of the year.