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Home News US satisfied with Cuban oil platform safety

US satisfied with Cuban oil platform safety

Published on 10/01/2012

US safety inspectors say an oil platform managed by the Spanish company Repsol for the Cuban government meets their safety standards.

The Cuban government plans to use the platform to drill for oil deep in Gulf of Mexico waters, off the coasts of Trinidad and Tobago.

Safety inspectors who checked the platform Scarabeo 9 “found the vessel to generally comply with existing international and US standards by which Repsol has pledged to abide,” the US Interior Department said in a statement dated Monday and sent to AFP.

The inspectors were invited by Repsol to examine the platform but “their review does not confer any form of certification or endorsement under US or international law,” the statement says.

Neither Cuba or Repsol are required to follow American recommendations, the Interior Department said.

Representatives from the United States and Cuba participated in an emergency preparedness seminar in the Bahamas recently along with officials from other countries that have interests in the Gulf of Mexico. They exchanged information on how to handle a disaster in the Gulf.

The United States operates a large oil industry in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, which was the site of devastating 2010 explosion and oil spill when a platform operated by the British company BP malfunctioned and sank.

US Coast Guard personnel based in Florida are updating their contingency plans in case of another oil platform accident, the Interior Department statement said.

The Repsol platform safety inspection fulfills an agreement US officials reached with the Cuban government last year.

In early November, Michael Bromwich of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said during a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee that, “Given the proximity of drilling to US waters, and considering the serious consequences a major oil spill would have on our economic and environmental interests, we have welcomed the opportunity to gather information on the rig’s operation, technology, and safety equipment.”

US Coast Guard Vice Admiral Brian Salerno told the panel the inspection was “consensual,” and added that “we do not have any way to compel them” to allow the visit.

Daniel Whittle of the non-governmental Environmental Defense Fund told the committee the Cubans plan to drill as many as six exploratory wells between 2011 and 2013.

“We had frank and open discussions and Cuban officials acknowledged the challenges associated with building an offshore oil and gas industry from scratch,” he said.

“They repeated their pledge to follow the highest international environmental and safety standards and expressed a strong willingness to cooperate with the United States and other countries in the region on all aspects of environmental protection and safety matters.”