MELBOURNE, July 8 (UPI) -- After showing the potential for significant oil production in Cuba, MEO Australia Ltd. said it was now appointing a country director to Havana.
The company, which has headquarters in Melbourne, said Friday it named Rafael Tenreyro, a former exploration director with Cuban national oil company CUPET, to serve as its country director, overseeing the company's Block 9 production sharing contract onshore Cuba.
"Having a local presence in Cuba will help MEO to effectively manage its activities in Block 9," MEO CEO Peter Stickland said in a statement. "A representative of the caliber of Tenreyro is an important addition to MEO's capabilities as we investigate the potential for early drilling opportunities."
According to MEO, Cuba produces about 80,000 barrels of oil per day. Estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey last year found there were about 4.6 billion barrels of crude oil and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the form of undiscovered, technically recoverable, reserves in Cuba. About three quarters of that is said to be located within 50 miles from shore.
MEO said the potential for Cuban oil and gas development was "exceptional." The company said Thursday it estimated that Block 9, located along the northern coast of Cuba, holds around 8 billion barrels of oil in place and has the potential to produce nearly 400 million barrels.
With that in mind, the company said it was exploring options for an accelerated drilling program, characterizing the opportunities as low cost and low risk.
"It is extraordinary to be able to already identify nearly 400 million barrels of prospective resources," Stickland said.
The Cuban government in 2014 enacted legislation offering corporate tax credits to encourage foreign investments. The U.S. government the same year started easing a 54-year trade embargo on Cuba and later reopened its embassy in Havana, restoring formal diplomatic ties.
This week, U.S., Cuban and Mexican delegates met in Mexico City to discuss the demarcation of maritime boundaries.