UPDATE 2-France's Total denies offshore oil exploration deal with Cuba

martes 12 de mayo de 2015 05:17 GYT

(Adds Total's denial, background)

HAVANA/PARIS May 12 (Reuters) - French oil company Total on Tuesday denied it had signed an offshore exploration deal with Cuba during President Francois Hollande's visit there.

Cuba's state-run television reported that Total had inked a deal to explore for oil with Cuban state oil monopoly CubaPetroleo (Cupet), without providing further detail.

"Total categorically denies it has signed an offshore exploration agreement with Cuba," a spokesman said.

A source with knowledge of the matter said Total's marketing and services branch, which handles oil products distribution such as lubricants and jet fuel, had signed an extension to an existing letter of intent for a bitumen joint venture with Cuba.

Total has no existing exploration activity in Cuba, and in 2014 only had limited marketing activities for the sale of speciality products there, according to its annual report.

A dozen foreign firms have explored in Cuba's deep waters over the years, sinking four wells but finding no oil.

Total has explored close to shore, drilling two wells in the early 1990s. They came up dry and Total left in 1995.

For over a decade, Cuba has asserted its Exclusive Economic Zone off the northwest coast holds more than 20 billion barrels of undiscovered crude.   Continuación...