Chinese-built semi-submersible rig, Scarabeo 9, has, after a long journey, arrived at its final destination, Cuba. The rig, one of the largest in the world, has been leased by the Spanish oil company Repsol, which hopes to unlock Cuba’s allegedly enormous deepwater oil reserves.
Cuba estimates that its offshore fields hold approximately 20 billion barrels of oil, which could, once unlocked provide a major boost to the communist country’s economy. A report by The Associated Press says that Repsol is only days away from the start of drilling operations in Cuban waters.
Repsol’s plans, however, have stirred up a public debate and objection in the nearby Florida. The U.S.’ 4th most populous state worries that a potential blowout offshore Cuba, similar to the one from Deepwater Horizon, could cause a serious environmental disaster in Florida.
In order to ensure the U.S. public that there is nothing to worry about, the Spanish operator recently invited the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) personnel onboard the Scarabeo 9 drilling rig.
After a thorough inspection, the BSEE personnel concluded that the Saipem-owned drilling rig generally complies with existing international and U.S. standards.
Due to the United States trading embargo against Cuba, Repsol had to come up with a rig with almost no U.S. made parts in it, and according to Reuters, the only U.S. manufactured part on the Scarabeo 9 rig, is a blowout preventer.
To remind, a blowout preventer is the part that malfunctioned on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 and caused the disaster.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, January 20, 2012