Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sherritt pledges to invest $1.25B U.S. in Cuba

The Star, Canada

Jun 06, 2007 08:23 PM
Associated Press

HAVANA–Canada's Sherritt International Corp. said Wednesday it plans to invest $1.25 billion (U.S.) in Cuba over the next two years, bolstering its position in the island's oil, natural gas, electricity and nickel and cobalt mining sectors.

"Cuba is one of our favourite places to work," Sherritt President Ian Delaney said during an event marking the expansion of the Energas natural gas plant, 30 miles east of Havana, which his company manages jointly with state-owned Cuba Petroleo.

Delaney did not specify what the new investments will be used for, saying only they will go toward a variety of projects. Sherritt is among the largest foreign investors in Cuba.

Acting President Raul Castro and Vice President Carlos Lage were among those at the ceremony. Lage said Cuba plans to erect 39 oil exploration wells this year, 26 of which will include investment from foreign firms.

Washington's 45-year-old embargo against Cuba bans American tourists from visiting the island and chokes off most trade between the two countries.

Cuba plans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas close to the coast of Florida, and proposals in the U.S. Congress would ease restrictions to allow American firms to invest in the island's exploration efforts. Those measures have not been approved, however.

Communist Cuba was plagued by widespread summer blackouts as recently as three years ago, prompting the government to launch a sweeping "energy revolution" which included a major overall to the country's antiquated electrical grid, as well conservation drives.

Lage said Cuban electrical output now far exceeds demand island-wide, even during peak hours.

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