Cuba, India sign energy agreement


Havana : Cuba and India have signed a cooperation and technical assistance agreement for the development of renewable energy sources.

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The agreement was signed Thursday by Cuban Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environment Fernando Gonzalez and visiting Indian Minister for New and Renewable Energy Minister Vilas M. Muttemwar.

The agreement calls for the exchange of information on renewable energy sources and the training of Cuban scientists in India.

It covers wind, solar, biomass and small power plant projects during the 2007-09 period.

"We are going to help each other in promoting renewable energy in our respective countries," the Indian minister said at a press conference.

Muttemwar discussed the studies being carried out in Cuba on the development of wind energy and the island's potential for using solar energy and biomass from the sugar industry to generate power.

The Indian official did not comment, however, on the interest of oil firms in his country in Cuba's potential offshore petroleum reserves.

India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) is currently a partner with Spain's Repsol YPF and Norway's Norsk Hydro in six of the 59 exploration blocks in Cuba's exclusive economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cuba opened its portion of the Gulf of Mexico's waters to foreign oil companies in 1999.

Venezuela's PDVSA, Spain's Repsol YPF, Canada-based Sherrit, India's ONGC, Norway's Norsk Hydro and Malaysia's Petronas have signed exploration contracts with state-owned Cuba Petroleo (Cupet).

A seventh company, whose name Cuban authorities have not revealed for fear that the US might retaliate against it under Washington's economic embargo against the island, also signed an exploration deal.

The seven companies had 20 blocks assigned to them, with some of the areas under joint exploration.

Cuba produces about 80,000 bpd of high-sulphur heavy crude used mainly to generate electricity, according to figures from state-owned oil company Cupet.