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***More fun in oil geopolitics

by Laurent GUERBY Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 07:31:21 AM EST

From the Washington Post: Will Cuban Oil Find Break U.S. Embargo?

The Associated Press
Saturday, July 29, 2006; 12:27 PM

MIAMI -- Some facts about America's trade embargo with Cuba:

_ It's been U.S. policy since 1961.
_ It has yet to loosen Fidel Castro's grip on power.
_ It has cost America little strategically or economically.

Until now, that is.

From here on out, say a growing chorus of experts, America will pay a price for maintaining its 45-year trade ban with the communist nation _ a strategic and economic price that will have negative repercussions for the United States in the decades to come.

What has changed the equation?

Oil. [...] (more below)

From the front page ~ whataboutbob

To be more specific, recent, sizable discoveries of it in the North Cuba Basin _ deep-water fields that have already drawn the interest of companies from China, India, Norway, Spain, Canada, Venezuela and Brazil.


Musings from  Crooked Timber:

[...] Some possibilities:

  1. Suddenly realize that the embargo isn't working and end it;
  2. Suddenly realize that the embargo isn't working where oil is concerned - end it for oil, but keep it in place for everything else.
  3. Dispute Cuba's territorial claims where the oil was found;
  4. Escalate - either blockade or at least stop suspending enforcement of title III the Helms-Burton amendment [pdf] until Cuba is a democracy like Saudi Arabia;
  5. Really escalate - invade Cuba (beyond Guantanamo Bay) or some other country, related or not - I'm thinking Venezuela;
  6. Keep very quiet about this and hope Castro dies soon and declare success no matter what the replacement regime looks like.

I don't know if the quantities are interesting in the global picture, from the Washington Post:

Seven months later, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed it: The North Cuba Basin held a substantial quantity of oil _ 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels of crude and 9.8 trillion to 21.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Cuba wasted no time, dividing the 74,000 square mile (120,000 square kilometer) area into 59 exploration blocks, and then welcoming foreign oil conglomerates with offers of production-sharing agreements.

With gas a 7 dollar per thousand cubic feet and oil at 70 per barrel, taking median estimate, it sums to 630 billion dollars. Cuba has a GDP of 33 billion dollars a year.

What I wonder is, why is the WaPo bringing this up only now. This topic has been circulating for over a month. It was also in the Breakfast here on ET on July 8. Why does it take today's newspaper so long to pick up a topic?
by Fran on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 10:25:44 AM EST
Cos Castro is ill and likely to play no role in running the country for some months whilst he regains his health (if at all).

So he's handed power over to his brother, of whom it is said "he is no Fidel". Meanwhile Washington has been letting it be known they have plans in place to take advantage of uncertainty during a post-Castro handover.

So I'm left to assume that the WaPo is just doing a positioning statement to let everyone know why the invasion takes place.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 11:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<Peter O'Toole>Will noone rid me of these meddlesome US of A?</Peter O'Toole>

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 11:30:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If this goes through, the Republicans lose power for decades. No one should mistake the political power of the Cubans in South Florida. Nothing ties them to the GOP except the embargo. If the GOP flips it with this exemption, then Florida goes to the Democrats for the next 20 years and beyond. Florida is a key state, with many electoral votes and an increasing population. It teeters between support for Democrats and the GOP. This exemption will tip the balance.

That in itself is probably enough to keep the GOP nervous. Of course, Bush an cohorts are so greedy--and bought and paid for by oil--that they may just say, screw the GOP, show us the profits.

by Upstate NY on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 11:56:33 AM EST
What a wonderful thought - Bush, the GOP, and Big Oil, all nervous at the same time!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 02:16:27 PM EST
remember that much of that undersea property is in US territorial waters.
by messy on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does anyone have a map of this?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 11:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You left off the best option: Casto dies, and Cuba holds a referendum to become the 51st state. Presto-chango, everything is cool: The U.S. gets a brand new tropical tourist paradise--like Hawaii but within reasonable travel distance. New oil supply. Troublesome Cuban Republicans in Florida move "home." Friendly Cuban Democrats move from Cuba to Florida (but not enough to counterbalance remaining leftist Cubans still in Cuba, voting for Democrats). Economy of Cuba blossoms. Banana, sugar, and coffe prices plummet.

What's the down side?

by asdf on Tue Aug 1st, 2006 at 10:44:32 PM EST
The down side is Guantanamo Bay is now US territory, so the Constitution applies there.
by Number 6 on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 05:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you get to the referendum without mass murdering that's great indeed!

Now if you reach a fair voting system in Cuba, I don't know what are the arguments for and against joining the USA from the average Cuban perspective.

Joining the USA will probably means major legal property disputes though.

by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 06:27:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Puerto Rico has had the option discussed at great length, and there is not much support for it. The chance of Cuba becoming an American state is about as much as the chance of France becoming one. (Although that would be fun!)
by asdf on Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 09:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ilove it!  Yes, I believe it would work.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 12:27:17 AM EST
getting around oil imports from evil nations.

You just refine it a bit first.  USA had plenty of Libyan molecules imported for years.  They just ran through Italian export refineries first.

So re-build the Bahamas refinery or perhaps the giant one at St. Croix could be exempt or even one of the big Venz refineries could run it leaving more Venz for export.  

Everyone just looks the other way and back to biz.  The Miami Cubans might squeal a little, but we're not going to ban all imports from Venz just because they threw a little Cuban crude into the recipe..

by HiD on Wed Aug 2nd, 2006 at 07:07:02 AM EST
4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels of crude and 9.8 trillion to 21.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

As oil is "discovered" through political will as much as through actual science, I'll be a tad skeptical of this claim until the juice is flowing.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2006 at 04:06:35 PM EST

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