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Russia halts Cuban oil exploration
June 4, 2013, 4:02 pm

[Getty Images]

[Getty Images]

Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft has halted its exploration in Cuba.

Zarubezhneft said it is experiencing “geological” problems at the moment, but will resume oil exploration in a year’s time.

The Russian oil major has opened an office in Havana to boost development of cooperation with Cuban companies, returning to Cuba in 2009 after a 20 years break.

Zarubezhneft’s drilling assumes crucial importance for Cuba seeking energy independence, which now relies on heavily subsidised oil from Venezuela.

The death of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this March has aggravated Cuba’s energy problems, as Venezuela used to be the island’s top ally and benefactor.

Russia, however, plans to return in a years time estimating to drill 6,500 metres below the sea floor.

Zarubezhneft currently cooperates with the state oil company Cubapetroleo and in 2009 the companies signed four contracts on Cuban oil fields exploration and development.

The withdrawal comes as the Norwegian company that owns the drilling platform they have been leasing, the Songa Mercur, said it would be leaving Cuban waters in July for another contract.

Daria Chernyshova