India’s ONGC Videsh and Norway’s Norsk Hydro are joining forces with Spain’s Repsol in a bid to find crude oil off Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico, said the diplomatic sources on Wednesday.
The news comes as US lawmakers, with oil prices soaring, are grumbling about prospecting in Cuban waters.
US media have reported that China was involved in the prospecting too but Cuba has not announced a Chinese deal till date.
Though the deal between the two oil companies, ONGC Videsh and Norsk Hydro is to be signed officially in Havana on May 23, technically it is not a new contract.
“Those companies are joining the existing one with Repsol to share risks,” a European diplomat told the british media.
Repsol has rights to six of the 59 prospecting areas which the Cuban government has been auctioning off since 1999.
It carried out its first drilling in 2004 and while oil was found, Repsol said the quality of that crude was not commercial grade.
Since then Repsol has been looking for partners to share the investment burden, and ONGC Videsh and Norsk Hydro each will be picking up 30 percent of the expenses, other sources said.
The Gulf’s waters were divided into economic exclusion zones of the United States, Mexico and Cuba under a deal which is still in effect and was signed during the government of then-US president Jimmy Carter.