Canada’s Sherritt International Corp. said Wednesday it plans to invest $1.25 billion (U.S.) in Cuba over the next two years, bolstering its position in the island’s oil, natural gas, electricity and nickel and cobalt mining sectors.
“Cuba is one of our favourite places to work,” Sherritt President Ian Delaney said during an event marking the expansion of the Energas natural gas plant, 30 miles east of Havana, which his company manages jointly with state-owned Cuba Petroleo.
Delaney did not specify what the new investments will be used for, saying only they will go toward a variety of projects. Sherritt is among the largest foreign investors in Cuba.
Acting President Raul Castro and Vice President Carlos Lage were among those at the ceremony. Lage said Cuba plans to erect 39 oil exploration wells this year, 26 of which will include investment from foreign firms.
Washington’s 45-year-old embargo against Cuba bans American tourists from visiting the island and chokes off most trade between the two countries.
Cuba plans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas close to the coast of Florida, and proposals in the U.S. Congress would ease restrictions to allow American firms to invest in the island’s exploration efforts. Those measures have not been approved, however.
Communist Cuba was plagued by widespread summer blackouts as recently as three years ago, prompting the government to launch a sweeping “energy revolution” which included a major overall to the country’s antiquated electrical grid, as well conservation drives.
Lage said Cuban electrical output now far exceeds demand island-wide, even during peak hours.
AND THIS RELATED STORY FROM RCA - Raul Castro Attends Opening of New Power Stations
Cuban First Vice President Raul Castro presided over the ceremony Wednesday at the startup of two electricity generators that will increase the country s generating capacity 70 megawatts.
At the ceremony an agreement was signed among the Electric Union, the Cuban Oil Company and Canadian Sherritt Utilities Inc., shareholders of the ENERGAS S.A. joint venture, to install a new 125-megawatt steam turbine.
With the incorporation of the new units, the installed power generation capacity, using gas, increased to 495 megawatts, 395 MW in ENERGAS and 100 MW in the thermoelectric station east of Havana.
The agreement also ratified the decision to begin stage eight of ENERGAS, to complete a combined cycle increasing efficiency in the use of the fuel s primary energy, both with the new turbine and in Boca de Jaruco station, in Havana Province,.
Prior to the signing of the document, Raul Castro toured the station and verified its stable work and effective use of new technology.
Raul Castro, who is also second secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, was accompanied by Sherritt International Corporation president, Ian Delaney, Cuban Ministry Council Executive Secretary Carlos Lage and Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia. (PL)