Friends and foes have called Cuba many things — a progressive beacon, a quixotic underdog, an oppressive tyranny — but no one has called it lucky, until now.
Mother Nature appears to have blessed the island with enough oil reserves to vault it into the ranks of energy powers. The government announced there may be more than 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil in offshore fields in Cuba’s share of the Gulf of Mexico, more than twice the previous estimate.
If confirmed, it puts Cuba’s reserves on par with those of the U.S. and into the world’s top 20. Drilling is expected to start next year by Cuba’s state oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet. “It would change their whole equation. The government would have more money and no longer be dependent on foreign oil,” said Kirby Jones, founder of the Washington-based U.S.-Cuba Trade Association. “It could join the club of oil exporting nations,” he added.