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Cuba set to explore offshore as oil rig arrives

HAVANA — A huge drilling rig arrived Thursday in the gulf waters north of Havana, where it will sink an exploratory well deep into the seabed, launching Cuba's dreams of striking it rich with offshore oil.

The Scarabeo-9 platform was visible from Havana's seawall as it chugged westward toward its final drill site about 30 miles from the capital, and 60 miles south of Key West.

Spanish oil company Repsol RPF, which is leasing the rig for about $500,000 a day, said it expects to begin drilling within days to find out whether the reserves are as rich as predicted.

It has been a long, strange journey for the Scarabeo-9, Repsol and Cuba, a process shadowed at every step by warnings of a possible environmental debacle and decades of bad blood between Cuba and the United States.

The U.S. trade embargo essentially bars U.S. companies from doing oil business with Cuba and threatens sanctions against foreign companies if they don't follow its restrictions.

To avoid sanctions, Repsol chose the Scarabeo-9, a 380-foot-long behemoth built in China and Singapore and capable of housing 200 workers..

The Scarabeo-9's blowout preventer, a key piece of machinery that failed in the 2010 Macondo-Deepwater Horizon disaster, is state of the art.

Judge pares lawyer fees in BP case: A federal judge has ruled that people pursuing their Gulf of Mexico oil spill claims against BP outside of federal court do not have to pay fees to hundreds of lawyers working on behalf of about 120,000 claimants fighting the oil giant in court.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans issued the ruling Wednesday to clarify a previous ruling.

Separately, federal lawyers on Thursday asked Barbier to find BP, Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Transcoean Ltd. all liable for the April 20, 2010, spill before a Feb. 27 trial starts. BP and Anadarko jointly owned the well and Transocean owned the drilling rig that exploded, killing 11 workers.

Cuba set to explore offshore as oil rig arrives 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 11:26pm]
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