The Spanish oil company Repsol “has volunteered to comply with all United States regulations while drilling in the Gulf of Mexico” in Cuban waters, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today in a phone conference with reporters. “That is an offer they have made,” he said.
Reuters adds a detail that I missed: Salazar also said that Repsol has offered to allow U.S. officials to inspect the rig. “They have volunteered to have the rig inspected by U.S. authorities, by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement,” Salazar said.
Previously, U.S. officials have voiced an expectation that Repsol would adhere to strict standards in its Cuba operation. Salazar’s statement today is the first mention of Repsol’s offer to observe U.S. standards.
Repsol’s executives told him that they would “voluntarily comply with the rules and regulations that the U.S. has in place,” Salazar said, and they showed him a “side-by-side list” that seemed to be, as I heard his description, a list of the phases of the Cuba operation, the applicable U.S. regulation, and Repsol’s compliance plans.
Salazar is in Oviedo, Spain, and had talks with Repsol “at the highest levels,” he said, to review Repsol’s operations in the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, and around the world. He said that most of the conversation was about issues and operations other than Cuba, including his effort to ensure a “gold standard” of environmental practices in all U.S. offshore oil operations.
A reporter asked Salazar whether he told Spanish officials that the Obama Administration would prefer that Repsol’s operation in Cuba not proceed at all. That, he responded, “is not an issue that I have raised at all with the Spanish government.”
Salazar referred several times to unspecified issues related to Repsol’s Cuba operations that the State Department and other agencies will treat.