China Is Drilling for Oil in Cuban Waters

Chinese tech is helping Cuba expand its oil production, whitstand the American embargo

So near and yet so out of reach for ExxonMobil

China is ramping up its oil drilling initiative in Cuban waters, using cutting-edge technology to reach deposits that Cubans couldn’t touch.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said on Tuesday that an affiliate of Chinese oil major CNPC, Great Wall Drilling, was drilling for oil off Cuba’s coast as part of a joint venture with state-owned oil firm Cuba Petroleum Company (CUPET).  

“Our deposits extend out to sea, so increasingly, wells are longer and to reach them we need cutting-edge technology that we have accessed through the Great Wall Company,” Julio Jimenez, CUPET’s director of drilling, told Xinhua.

The site of the drilling operation is reportedly near the coastal town of Boca de Camarioca, about 75 miles east of Havana, and is a 1,475-meter-deep well extending some 4,692 meters out to sea. Workers hope to reach 6,950 meters where geological studies show a hydrocarbon deposit is located. Great Wall management claims that several new wells have been drilled more effectively using Chinese drilling technology.

“We have increased the efficiency of drilling, lowered the cost of building the wells, and drilled several highly productive wells, in addition, we have supported the finding of new deposits,” said Meng Fanji, Great Wall’s deputy manager.

The Chinese company, which first signed deals to explore for oil in Cuba in 2005, is also working on another exploration well in Celimar, about nine miles east of Havana. The Celimar well is 2,141 meters deep and, after reaching an angle of 79 degrees, runs for 5,100 meters out to sea. The objective is to reach a crude deposit estimated to lie 6,300 meters offshore, Xinhua added.

Cuba desperately needs new oil to help meet its energy needs. Unlike many of its other neighbors in the region, the one-party state uses crude oil to meet around half of its energy needs, while it relies on foreign imports, often Venezuelan crude along with generous subsidies, for the rest.

Fighting against sanctions together

In November, Cuba criticized the Trump administration for putting new sanctions against more than two dozen Cuban companies, in a move that Havana said was a futile attempt to change its policies, which would only isolate Washington further internationally.

Though the US coast is less than 100 miles from Cuba, American companies are prohibited from owning any Cuban oil or gas assets due to the decades-long trade embargo put in place against the country by Washington.

However, according to the US Energy Administration (EIA) US oil companies are allowed to participate in drilling as well as sending technology and supplies with an executive license in Cuba. Other countries as well as China, including Russia and Australia, have explored for oil in waters off the country’s coast.


  1. David Bedford says

    America is making it very easy for China to overtake the US economy and I predict it will come a lot sooner than 2035 as predicted because of US sanctions (which only isolate the US from the world economy).

    1. Séamus Ó Néill says

      Yes , the US government must house the most moronic ,unintelligent savages in history. They seem to be completely oblivious to the results of their bullying actions. Their sanctions and “trade deals” , their genocidal war crimes and their complete disregard for laws and treaties have engendered a worldwide loathing for everything American. As a result of this and because everything evil that America does is funded by the dollar’s unique position , there is a move to dethrone the dollar. When that occurs , because of America’s colossal and mounting debt , and its inability to repay this $230 trillion , it will collapse into bankruptcy….bringing Israel with it !

      1. David Bedford says

        They have no plans on ever repaying that debt they will most likely file for bankruptcy in true Donald Trump fashion

  2. Natural_Texan says

    Bolton/Pompeo Neo-con wet-dream would be to annex Cuba.. then they could get all the hydrocarbons, really punish those lazy Cuban peasants! and of course the waters between Key West and Cuba become US territory.. and freedom of navigation could be thrown out the window.

    1. Kapricorn4 says

      With regard to Cuba, is is not the oil that Bolton and Pompeo are concerned about. It is the very idea that socialism might take hold elsewhere.

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