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Russia suspends oil exploration in Cuba


11:28, May 31, 2013

HAVANA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft ceased its oil exploration work in deep waters off northern Cuba, due to geological and technical reasons, but pledged to return to the same area in 2014, the company said here Thursday.

Zarubezhneft and its Cuban counterpart Cubapetroleos (CUPET) decided to change their initial drilling program by dividing it into two stages, with the second stage to be launched in 2014, the company said.

Zarubezhneft said it faced an extremely hard rocky surface and technical problems with the semi-submersible oil rig Songa Mercur during the drilling.

However, the Russian company's announcement of stopping drilling in Cuba's Exclusive Economic Zone was not unexpected, as Songa Offshore, owner of the platform, had officially announced it would suspend its work here on June 1 and move the platform to Southeast Asia.

Zarubezhneft was granted in 2009 the rights to explore the L-01X block, located in the Old Bahamas Channel, north of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago, bordering the coasts of Cuba's centralprovinces Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Ciego de Avila.

According to studies by the U.S. Geological Service, the underwater reserve located next to the Bahamas Channel, is estimated to have 1.906 billion barrels of oil.

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