Today the Washington Times weighs in on a very sore subject with new developments to it – namely, the development of offshore oil in the Gulf of Mexico by the Cubans.
It seems that after a spate of outrage in 2007 and 2008 over the fact that Chinese concerns had leased exploration blocks in the Gulf not far from Key West from Cuba, which the Democrat party went out of its way to denounce as demogoguery, the current suitors are the Russians. According to the Washington Times piece:
Russia more sensibly views energy primarily as a strategic resource. Energy is critical to Russia’s economy, as fuel and as a source of profit through export. Russia also has used energy as a coercive diplomatic tool, shutting off natural gas piped to Eastern Europe in the middle of winter to make a point about how dependent the countries are that do business with the Russians.
Now Russia is using oil exploration to establish a new presence in the Western Hemisphere. It recently concluded four contracts securing oil-exploration rights in Cuba’s economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. A Russian-Cuban joint partnership will exploit oil found in the deep waters of the Gulf.
Cuba has rights to the area in which drilling will be conducted under an agreement the Carter administration recognized. From Russia’s perspective, this is another way to gain leverage inside what traditionally has been America’s sphere of influence. It may not be as dramatic as the Soviet Union attempting to use Cuba as a missile platform, but in the energy wars, the message is the same. Russia is projecting power into the Western Hemisphere while the United States retreats. The world will not tolerate a superpower that acts like a sidekick much longer.
As of this time last year, Cupet, the Cuban national oil company, had created 59 exploration blocks and leased 21 of them. There are anywhere from five billion to 20 billion barrels of oil and as much as 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in a field which stretches from the Florida straits some 45-50 miles south of Key West west into the Gulf. Chinese participation in those leases, which has come along with that of Canada, Spain, Norway, India and other countries, raised American anger during the “Drill Here, Drill Now” movement in 2008. Still to this day better than 60 percent of the American people favor expanding offshore oil exploration in areas not available to the public, like for example the Eastern Gulf. As you can see from the map, if there is oil 50 miles south of Key West and 20 miles north of Havana it’s entirely likely there is oil 30 miles south of Key West in American territory. But with current exploration technologies like horizontal drilling, who knows what the Cubans and their partners might be able to siphon from what otherwise might be American offshore territory?
The latest entrant, of course, is the Russians, who actually signed deals for Cuban oil exploration back in July of last year.
The U.S. federal government, meanwhile, is sitting on its hands with respect to offshore oil. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at President Obama’s behest has essentially taken new leases off the table until 2012, meaning whatever oil inside the American sector of the Florida Straits/Eastern Gulf field there might be will sit idle until a new occupant of the White House is inaugurated. This administration believes in the fraud of global warming and as such wishes to reduce the American economy to depending on windmills and solar panels for power, or so it says – after all, last fall Obama gave $2 billion in federal loan guarantees to the Brazilians to drill in the Tupi field off their coast, which would indicate its disdain for offshore oil isn’t complete. The fact that Obama sugar daddy and quintessential James Bond villain George Soros is one of the largest private investors in Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company, might have had something to do with American support for Brazilian offshore drilling, but we digress.
In any event, regardless of the extraneous considerations and suspicious back-door activities which might be going on, it’s clear that the Russians and the Chinese understand energy resources to be strategic commodities crucial for economic life. It’s very clear that the American government does not. As a result, we’re losing – economically, geopolitically and diplomatically.
And for what? The environment? The oil is going to be drilled and sold anyway. Just not by us. And does anyone really believe that China, Russia or India will maintain the environmental standards in drilling for oil 45 miles from Key West that ExxonMobil or McMoran or ConocoPhillips would?
We ask this question all the time, but now is a good time to ask it again: if America’s enemies were put in charge of our energy policy, exactly what would they do differently than what is being done right now?