U.S. To Monitor Cuban Oil Work

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Coast Guard plan to inspect an oil rig leased by Spanish energy company Repsol in Cuban waters, an official said.

Repsol last year announced plans to drill exploration wells in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A group of U.S. House of Representative lawmakers, all of Cuban descent, criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for not standing against Repsol’s plans, which they claim constitutes work “with a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said a team was headed to Cuban waters to inspect the rig this week.

“The inspection is being conducted to protect the interests of the United States,” she told the Platts news service.

Michael Bromwich, former head of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said Washington had limited access to certain aspects of Repsol’s drilling program, however.

Cuba is looking into cutting the amount of oil it imports from Venezuela through development of offshore reserves. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that, as of 2009, Cuba had less than 1 billion barrels of oil reserves.

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