Search Penny Hill Press

Loading...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development: Background and U.S. Policy Considerations


Neelesh Nerurkar
Specialist in Energy Policy

Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs


Cuba is moving toward development of its offshore oil resources. While the country has proven oil reserves of just 0.1 billion barrels, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that offshore reserves in the North Cuba Basin could contain an additional 4.6 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable crude oil. The Spanish oil company Repsol, in a consortium with Norway’s Statoil and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is expected to begin offshore exploratory drilling in early 2012, and several other companies are considering such drilling. At present, Cuba has six offshore projects with foreign oil companies. If oil is found, some experts estimate that it would take at least three to five years before production would begin.

In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, some Members of Congress and others have expressed concern about Cuba’s development of its deepwater petroleum reserves so close to the United States. They are concerned about oil spill risks and about the status of preparedness and coordination in the event of an oil spill. Dealing with these challenges is made more difficult because of the long-standing poor state of relations between Cuba and the United States. If an oil spill did occur in the waters northwest of Cuba, currents in the Florida Straits could carry the oil to U.S. waters and coastal areas in Florida, although a number of factors would determine the potential environmental impact. If significant amounts of oil did reach U.S. waters, marine and coastal resources in southern Florida could be at risk.

The Obama Administration has been making efforts to prepare for a potential oil spill in Cuban waters that could affect the United States. This has included: updating oil spill area contingency plans covering Florida and developing a broader offshore drilling response plan; engaging with Repsol over its oil spill response plans (including plans to inspect the oil rig that Repsol will use); and licensing U.S. companies to provide personnel and export equipment needed for oil spill preparedness and response. Some energy and policy analysts have called for the Administration to ease regulatory restrictions on the transfer of U.S. equipment and personnel to Cuba for oil spill preparedness and response. Some have also called for direct U.S.-Cuban government cooperation to minimize potential oil spill damage, looking at U.S. cooperation with Mexico as a potential model as well as information sharing and cooperation through multilateral channels under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization. In contrast, some policy groups call for the United States to focus on preventing Cuba from engaging in offshore oil exploration altogether.

In the 112th Congress, five legislative initiatives have been introduced taking varying approaches toward Cuba’s offshore oil development, and there have been two oversight hearings. H.R. 372 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to deny oil leases and permits to those companies that engage in activities with the government of any foreign country subject to any U.S. government sanction or embargo. S. 405, among its provisions, would require the development of oil spill response plans for nondomestic oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, including recommendations for a joint contingency plan with Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas. H.R. 2047 would impose visa restrictions on foreign nationals and economic sanctions on companies that help facilitate the development of Cuba’s offshore petroleum resources. S. 1836 and H.R. 3393 would provide that foreign offshore oil developers would be liable for damages from oil spills that enter U.S. waters. For additional information on Cuba, see CRS Report R41617, Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress.



Date of Report: November 28, 2011
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: R41522
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections

Julissa Gomez-Granger
Information Research Specialist

Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs


This fact sheet tracks the current heads of government in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It provides the dates of the last and next elections for the head of government and the national independence date for each country


Date of Report: December 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 6
Order Number: 98-684
Price: $19.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brazil-U.S. Relations


Peter J. Meyer
Analyst in Latin American Affairs

As its economy has grown to be the seventh largest in the world, Brazil has consolidated its power in South America, extended its influence to the broader region, and become increasingly prominent on the world stage. The Obama Administration’s national security strategy regards Brazil as an emerging center of influence, whose leadership it welcomes “to pursue progress on bilateral, hemispheric, and global issues.” In recent years, U.S.-Brazil relations have generally been positive despite Brazil’s prioritization of strengthening relations with neighboring countries and expanding ties with nontraditional partners in the “developing South.” Although some disagreements have emerged, Brazil and the United States continue to engage on a number of issues, including counternarcotics, counterterrorism, energy security, trade, human rights, and the environment.

Dilma Rousseff of the ruling center-left Workers’ Party was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term on January 1, 2011. She is Brazil’s first female president. Rousseff inherits a country that has benefited from what many analysts consider 16 years of stable and capable governance under Presidents Cardoso (1995-2002) and Lula (2003-2010). She has pledged to build on her predecessors’ accomplishments by maintaining strong economic growth and fostering greater social inclusion. Rousseff’s 10-party electoral coalition holds significant majorities in both houses of Brazil’s legislature; however, keeping the unwieldy coalition together to advance her policy agenda has already proven challenging. Although her Administration has had to deal with a number of corruption scandals, Rousseff remains popular among the general population. In September 2011, 71% of Brazilians approved of her performance in office.

With a gross national income (GNI) of $1.83 trillion, Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America. Over the past eight years, the country has enjoyed average annual growth of over 4%. This growth has been driven by a boom in international demand for its commodity exports and the increased purchasing power of Brazil’s fast-growing middle class. The country has also benefitted from a series of policy reforms implemented over the course of two decades that reduced inflation, established stability, and fostered growth. These policies have enabled Brazil to better absorb international shocks like the recent global financial crisis, from which Brazil emerged relatively unscathed. After strong growth in 2010, however, the Brazilian economy has begun to slow. While the country has the resources necessary to weather another potential downturn in the global economy in the near-term, several constraints on mid- and long-term economic growth remain.

The 112th Congress has maintained interest in U.S.-Brazil relations. Several pieces of legislation have been introduced, including bills that would suspend foreign assistance to Brazil (H.R. 2246) and the issuance of visas to Brazilian nationals (H.R. 2556) until the country amends its constitution to allow for the extradition of its citizens, and bills (H.R. 3039 and S. 1653) designed to accelerate visa processing for citizens of Brazil and other countries. Additionally, the House initially adopted a provision (H.Amdt. 454), which was dropped from the final legislation (H.R. 2112), that would have prevented the United States from providing payments to the Brazil Cotton Institute as it agreed to do to temporarily resolve a World Trade Organization dispute with Brazil.

This report analyzes Brazil’s political, economic, and social conditions, and how those conditions affect its role in the world and its relationship with the United States.



Date of Report: November 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 35
Order Number: RL33456
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.