WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- A Spanish company is considering drilling for oil off the northern coast of Cuba but a U.S. senator says the administration should not permit it.
Spanish company Repsol says it is in the "exploration stage" of oil drilling and is having an oil rig built in China to be used in Cuban waters, CNN reported. The European company first drilled near Yamagua, Cuba, in 2004 and reported "encouraging results," a company spokesman said.
Fearing a potential spill like the one in the gulf, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called on President Barack Obama to "prohibit the Cuban regime from initiating further drilling," CNN reported.
Asked about Repsol's activities, State Department spokesman Phillip J. Crowley said the BP gulf spill "demonstrates the critical need to take adequate safety measures and planning precautions in offshore drilling."
"We expect any company engaged in oil exploration activities to have adequate safeguards in place to prevent oil spills and contingency plans to address a spill should it happen," he said.
"U.S. oil spill mitigation service companies can be licensed through the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to provide oil spill prevention and containment support to companies operating in Cuba," he said. "We will continue to pursue these and other initiatives within our authority in order to minimize risk to U.S. waters and shores."