Shaun Hegarty | KRISTV.com
The Port of Corpus Christi is planning ahead for the day when the United States embargo on Cuba is lifted. In fact, port officials were in Mexico City this past weekend, discussing potential business opportunities with Cuba. The development of Cuban oil resources could be a real boost for this area.
Over the past three years the port of Corpus Christi shipped 20,000 tons beans and 50,000 tons of grain to Cuba. Right now a trade embargo means those are the few items allowed. But if officials ever lift the embargo, the port may get into the oil business with Cubans.
“We saw this as a very first step in starting to talk about that, right now nobody can do any of that trade…that’s not legal…we knew that going in,” said John Larue from the Port of Corpus Christi.
The port already possesses refining capability and the development of potential Cuban oil reserves could be a big boost for industries like offshore rig fabricators, as well as oil drilling and production services.
“I think they feel the technology and the understanding of finding oil and pulling it out of the ground as efficiently as possible that rests in the United States,” Larue said. This weekend’s meeting included major companies like Valero, Exxon-Mobil and Caterpillar construction.
“This was not just a bunch of port people or others sitting around talking about what could happen some day…this was major players in the energy industry trying to get a sense of what was going on in Cuba.”
Last year, Cubans spent 750 million dollars on U.S. agricultural and humanitarian supplies so if Congress and the president ever lift the full embargo, South Texas is prepared for the windfall.
The meeting did hit a bit of a hiccup, when Cuban delegates were asked to leave the American-owned Sheraton Hotel, because of pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department. They said the Mexico City Sheraton, is a subsidiary of an American company and the meeting was a violation of the embargo. The delegates moved to another hotel and resumed the meeting.
In the meantime, port officials said serious talks are underway on a deal to export chicken and rice to Cuba. Telephone poles are also another possible export item. It may sound a bit strange at first glance, but the island suffers a lot of hurricane damage on an annual basis. Talks on possible deals for these types of products are underway, but no timetable has been set.
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