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Don't talk oil with Cuba, lawmaker warns

Sept. 7, 2011 at 8:45 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Washington is sending the wrong message by having a delegation in Cuba review the country's plans to drill offshore for oil and natural gas, a lawmaker said.

A delegation led by William Reilly, a top official at the National Oil Spill Commission, left Monday for Cuba to examine Havana's oil plans.

Cuba is looking into cutting the amount of oil it imports from Venezuela through development of offshore reserves.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement, said sending a U.S. delegation to Cuba sends the wrong message.

"By meeting with Cuban regime officials about their plans to drill for oil, U.S. officials are giving credibility to the regime's dangerous oil-drilling scheme," she said.

Deep-water exploration is under scrutiny following last year's disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spanish energy company Repsol leads an international consortium to drill off the Cuban shore this year. The Wall Street Journal notes that if the company finds oil in Cuba's deep waters, it could spark a race to tap into those reserves.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that, as of 2009, Cuba had less than 1 billion barrels of oil reserves.

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