PdVSA to perform exploratory drill

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One week after news broke that Spanish oil company Repsol is likely to abandon the island, Cuban officials said offshore oil discoveries had “high potentiality” in the long run and announced that Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA has contracted the built-for-Cuba platform first used by Repsol.

The Scarabeo 9 rig will drill the Cabo de San Antonio 1X well for Petr√≥leos de Venezuela off the western tip of the island, according to a statement by Cuban state oil company Cupet read on state TV June 5.¬†The statement didn’t provide any dates. PdVSA officials, according to Mexican daily La Jornada, have said that the prospects in the area look “very promising.”

Since May 24, Scarabeo 9 has been drilling the Catoche 1X well for a consortium led by Malaysia’s Petronas in a block off the north coast of western Pinar del R√≠o province. Petronas is the senior partner in a consortium with Russian oil company Gazprom Neft.

The lack of success in Repsol’s Jag√ľey 1X well “in no way voids the perspectives of the zone, which encompasses an area of 112,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the main oil producing basins worldwide with high potentiality for the discovery of new hydrocarbon reserves, according to geological studies,” the Cupet statement said.

On May 29, Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau announced he was “almost certain” his company will pull out of Cuba. Repsol has already contracted Scarabeo 9 ‚ÄĒ the only platform in the world built to comply with U.S. sanctions against Cuba ‚ÄĒ to perform drills in Brazil.

A Cuban official said last year he expected five exploratory drills within two years.

Built in China and Singapore with less than 10 percent U.S. content, Scarabeo 9 costs $511,000 a day to operate, well above the cost of regular platforms.

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