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Cuban government officials confirmed the drilling of 5 exploration wells in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Gulf of Mexico from 2012 to 2013. In this area there are 27 and 37 agreed areas available.
 Manuel Marrero, expert from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said Tuesday that since work began on one of those wells with submersible platform Scarabeo-9, the company contracted by Repsol YPF.
 The rig, built in China, arrived in Cuba on Jan. 19 to begin operations in the EEZ, that totals 112,000 square kilometers.
 Marrero said that in that area there are stringent regulations to ensure safety and environmental protection, recommended by international authorities, implicitly referring to U.S. concerns.
 The official said the emerging oil industry is already "a major factor in the national economy", which for years going through a deep crisis, and figure on oil recovery hopes.
 Marrero spoke at a symposium on oil, corresponding to one of the 17 events of the 33 Convention of the Pan American Union of Engineering Associations (UPADI) based in the Palace of Conventions in Havana.
 He reiterated that it is possible to substantially increase oil production and gas in Cuba's EEZ in the Gulf of Mexico, where the state Cuba Petroleo (Cupet) estimates the recoverable resources in at least 20.000 billion barrels of oil.
 He warned of the obstacles to achieving these objectives, including what he described as "ruthless economic, financial and commercial" from the U.S. to Cuba, more than half a century.
However, Cupet able to hire eight blocks on land and offshore to foreign companies that carry out the exploration and production, he said.
 The EEZ is divided into 59 blocks, 22 of them at risk contract with the companies Statoil (Norway), which forms a consortium with Repsol (Spain) and OVL (India), PDVSA (Venezuela), PetroVietnam, Petronas (Malaysia) and Sonangol (Angola).
 Cuba was in 2011 on land and shallow water 21 million barrels of oil and 1.1 million cubic meters of natural gas, about half of its energy needs.
 Havana, Cuba, receives more than 100,000 barrels of oil from Venezuela, which pays in part to services like medical care and advice of experts and specialists in education and sports.
The government of President Raul Castro, undergoing a program of more than 300 reforms to "update" the economic model, has encrypted their hopes on the extraction of large-scale oil in deep water.

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