Clinton asked to seek temporary delay of drilling off Cuba

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, May 23 -- US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked US Sec. of State Hillary R. Clinton to use diplomatic channels to temporarily keep an international consortium led by Repsol SA from drilling for oil off Cuba. Drilling possibly as early as this summer could threaten Florida tourism and is not in US interests, Nelson told her in a May 19 letter.

The senator has fought possible development of Cuba’s offshore resources for years in several ways. He has asked Republican and Democratic administrations to withdraw diplomatic letters that the US government exchanges with Cuba every 2 years that enforce the 1977 Maritime Boundary Agreement. He introduced a bill in 2010 to deny US visas to executives of foreign companies drilling in Cuban waters, which Congress did not take up.

Most recently, Nelson said, he has introduced a bill that would require oil companies doing business with Cuba to comply with US safety regulations. “Meantime, national elections are set in Spain for March 2012,” he told Clinton, adding, “Spain may have a government less inclined to tolerate investment in Cuba. Until such time as the elections, I urge you to do your utmost to prevent these drilling operations.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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