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Cuban waters come up dry on oil

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog. The views expressed are the author's own.

International oil companies have been searching for crude off the coast of Cuba for the past few years, including three separate efforts to drill for oil. It was a challenge, as most oil drilling rigs are prohibited from working in Cuba under the US embargo. But the companies found a rig and got to work.

Now, After 3 dry holes, the rig is asail for Africa. Repsol [Spain], Petronas [Malaysia], and PDVSA [Venezuela] all came up short. Petrobras [Brazil] abandoned its work on the island a couple years ago. Now one might ask, in hindsight, did this drilling program make sense?

Maybe it did for Repsol. It never hurts to take a chance, and if they had struck oil, they had the expertise and money to get it out of the ground. And Petronas, why not? Like Repsol, they need to look abroad for growth. But PDVSA and Petrobras, two companies with far more reserves than they have cash to develop the reserves?

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