Thursday, June 2, 2011

Secretary Salazar in Madrid to talk oil (Updated)

[Note: El Economista’s unsourced article was plainly inaccurate, according to Secretary Salazar’s own description of his meetings with Spanish officials.]

This article from Spain's El Economista newspaper is headlined, “United States pressures Spain for Repsol not to go into Cuba.”

It says Interior Secretary Salazar will have lunch in Madrid tomorrow with the Spanish Minister of Industry, Miguel Sebastian, “to convey the U.S. Administration’s unease about the oil company’s [Repsol’s] decision to begin exploring in this zone [Cuba’s offshore economic zone] in September.”

The article cites no sources and quotes no one, not even anonymously.

It has been reported that the Interior Department and Repsol have talked about Cuba’s offshore oil exploration, but no Administration view has been stated except an expectation that the project will meet high environmental standards (see here). Interior says there should be uniformly high standards for all Gulf drilling operations, but connecting Cuba to those standards would be “tricky.”

A lunch in Madrid is a fine idea, but direct talks with Cuba would make even more sense – and with Mexico and the Bahamas too, now that there is talk of possible drilling in Bahamian waters in 2012.

Update: From an Interior Department press release: “Secretary Salazar will also meet with representatives from Repsol, the Spanish national oil and gas company, as part of Interior’s ongoing effort to engage industry and the international community in a dialogue on safe and responsible offshore oil and gas development.”

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