Untapped Oil Could Lube US-Cuba Ties

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2009 7:25 PM CDT
Few oil tankers arrive at a refinery March 3, 2003 in Havana, Cuba.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Oil trapped deep in the Gulf of Mexico could help ease the US-Cuba trade ban and decades of strained relations, the Washington Post reports. With 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of crude lying untapped in Cuba's territorial waters, some experts argue it's time for US companies to help drill it. But Washington's JFK-era trade ban stands in the way. It would "be a sea change, literally and figuratively, for the Cubans," one US professor said.

American companies aren't lobbying for the black gold, which international companies are already drilling or seeking. And several lawmakers are wary of dealing with, or financially supporting, Cuba's Communist regime. Environmental concerns have also arisen. "They'd be drilling right in the Gulf Stream," said Florida Sen. Bill Nelson. "There would be a monumental disaster."