UPDATE 1-Cuba says to drill for oil in deep water despite low prices
(Adds details about available exploration rigs)
By Jaime Hamre
CAMARIOCA, Cuba Oct 21 (Reuters) - Cuba plans to drill exploratory deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017 despite current low oil prices, officials from the state oil monopoly said.
Cuba-Petroleo (Cupet) will drill exploratory wells as deep as 7,000 meters (23,000 ft) in waters of up to 3,000 meters in production sharing contracts with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and Angola's Sonangol.
"We will initiate a drilling campaign at the end of 2016 or the start of 2017," Osvaldo Lopez, Cupet's head of exploration, told Reuters on Wednesday.
"The essential goal of the new drilling campaign is at least two deep wells. There could be three. If there is a discovery there certainly will be more than two," Lopez said on a tour of oil wells with international industry representatives.
Experts believe billions of barrels worth of oil lie beneath the waters off Cuba's northwest coast, but a host of companies that have drilled over the years have come up dry.
Exploration has long been impeded by the U.S. trade embargo and is further complicated at times of low oil prices such as the present.
Crude oil prices have fallen in half over more than a year and the most recent forecasts project them going lower in 2016. Continuación...