The Brunei Times
VIETNAM'S state oil and gas group became on Friday the sixth oil company to sign risk contracts to explore Cuba's promising Gulf of Mexico waters.
Petrovietnam signed contracts for blocks 31, 42 and 43 in the deep waters of Cuba's economic exclusion zone where non-commercial quantities of light oil have been discovered.
The prospecting, drilling and production contracts were signed with Cuban state oil company Cupet during a visit to Havana by Vietnam's Communist Party leader, Nong Duc Manh.
Petrovietnam also signed a risk contract for onshore blocks 16, 17 and 18, a Cuban government statement said.
The overseas arm of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) signed up two blocks in September and is conducting seismic work.
Its representative in Havana, RS Pandey, said a first well could be sunk in late 2008 or early 2009.
ONGC is already a partner with Spain's Repsol-YPF and Norway's Norsk Hydro in six blocks in an area where Repsol in 2004 found good-quality oil, but not enough to develop commercially.
The consortium is expected to drill again next year.
Malaysia's state-run Petronas and Canada's Sherritt International also have risk contracts in Cuba's 112,000-square-km offshore zone in Gulf water opened to foreign exploration in 1999 in 59 blocks.