MARCH 2 2012 02:29h

Expert: Cuba couldn't handle oil spill


HAVANA, March 1 (UPI) -- Cuba would not have enough resources for cleanup in case of a spill caused by proposed oil drilling in waters 60 miles from Florida, an industry analyst says.

Because of an embargo limiting government-to-government talks between Cuba and the United States, technocrats from both countries, along with a U.S. Coast Guard admiral in Miami, are meeting in the Bahamas and Curacao to discuss how an oil spill like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident would be handled, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Experts said the Deepwater Horizon spill, which spewed an estimated 5 million barrels of crude into the gulf, was a preventable disaster caused by misjudgments by the oil companies involved.

"Now imagine something like that happening in the waters between two countries that don't even talk to each other," said Jorge Pinon, a former president of Amoco Oil Latin America who is currently a research fellow at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas.

The Deepwater Horizon cleanup could end up costing more than $43 billion, and Cuba's total gross domestic product is $50 billion. Pinon said Cuba has only 5 percent of the resources it would need to contain a spill the size of the 2010 disaster.

"The U.S. Coast Guard is terrified," he said.

Spanish, Russian and Malaysian energy companies are vying for the right to drill in Cuban waters, expecting to find 5 billion barrels of oil.