US Coast Guard to inspect Repsol-leased rig headed to Cuba
New York (Platts)--3Jan2012/547 pm EST/2247 GMT
The US Coast Guard and the Interior Department plan to inspect this week
a Chinese-made semisubmersible rig under lease by Spain-based Repsol that is
headed for Cuba's offshore, an Interior Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"The visit is expected this week and we will issue a readout when it is
done," Melissa Schwartz said in an email.
"The inspection is being conducted to protect the interests of the
United States," she said.
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Inspection of the Scarabeo-9 rig will be carried out in Trinidad and
Tobago, with the rig to be later transported to Cuba.
Lt. Cmdr. Brian Khey will represent the Coast Guard in the inspection,
Schwartz said. She did not say who from the Interior Department would join
Repsol did not return requests for comment. The rig will be sent to an
offshore Cuba block operated by Repsol, which has partnered with Cuba's
state-owned oil and natural gas company, Cupet, and with Statoil and Indian
state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp.
The former director of the Bureau of Safety and
EnvironmentalEnforcement, Michael Bromwich, said in November that the rig
inspection would not be thorough. US officials will not, for example, inspect
the blowout preventer after it is secured to the wellhead on the ocean floor,
and specific well-control drill requirements, he said.
An industry group, the International Association of Drilling
Contractors, and others have called for an exemption of the US economic
embargo against Cuba so that oil spill prevention equipment could quickly go
to Cuba in case of an emergency.
Lee Hunt, head of the IADC, has said that the embargo "absolutely
inhibits optimum safety in the Gulf of Mexico."
--Leslie Moore Mira, firstname.lastname@example.org