NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 24, 2006

Cuba is drilling for oil 60 miles off the coast of Florida with help from China, Canada and Spain even as Congress struggles to end years of deadlock over drilling for what could be a treasure trove of offshore oil and gas.

Republicans in Congress have tried repeatedly in the past decade to open up the outer continental shelf to exploration, and Florida's waters hold some of the most promising prospects for major energy finds. Their efforts have been frustrated by opposition from Florida, California and environmental-minded legislators from both parties. 

  • Florida's powerful tourism and booming real estate industries fear that oil spills could cost them business.
  • Lawmakers from the state are so adamantly opposed to drilling that they have bid to extend the national ban on drilling activity from 100 miles to as far as 250 miles offshore, encompassing the island of Cuba.
  • Cuba is exploring in its half of the 90-mile-wide Straits of Florida within the internationally recognized boundary as well as in deep-water areas of the Gulf of Mexico; the impoverished communist nation is eager to receive any economic boost that would come from a major oil find.

According to Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, Cuba's activities show that the quarter-century ban on offshore drilling is putting the United States at a strategic disadvantage at a time of increasingly scarce energy resources and record high oil and gas prices that are hampering economic growth and stoking inflation.

Cuba, he says, is moving forward with plans to drill in offshore areas that abut U.S. coastal waters.  Since pools of oil do not respect international boundaries, it is almost certainly true that Cuba will be accessing oil that could otherwise be developed by and for the benefit of Americans.

Source: Patrice Hill, "Cuba drills for oil off Florida," Washington Times, July 24, 2006.


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