HAVANA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- China's Geological Survey (CGS) and Cuban research centers in the fields of oil exploration and geology have recently signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs), paving the way for collaboration in these areas.
The documents were inked on Tuesday between the CGS and the Cuba's Institute of Geology and Paleontology (IGP), and between the CGS and the Petroleum Research Center (CEINPET) on Wednesday, respectively, marking the formal establishment of cooperation schemes between them.
Despite close bilateral ties between the two countries, agreements of this type were previously lacking in geosciences and oil exploration.
According to Wang Yan, deputy director general of the CGS, the signing of both MoUs establish official contacts in this field for the first time and will favor the economic and social development of the Caribbean nation.
"The CGS has extensive experience in geological exploration and has good scientific and technological capabilities that we are willing to share with Cuba to improve this country's level and capabilities," Wang told Xinhua.
The official said both agreements will focus on geophysical exploration, geochemistry, oil and gas assessment, as well as the exploration and evaluation of minerals such as nickel and chromium.
In this regard, Enrique Castellanos, director of geology at Cuba's Ministry of Energy and Mines, said both sides are working on a collaborative project to carry out, for the first time in history, a geochemical map of the island.
The purpose is to determine the chemical composition of the rocks on the country's surface, in addition to identifying potential or prospective sites of mineral deposits, said the Cuban official.
This map will also serve to help environmental studies, as it allows researchers to know the values of certain chemical elements that may have an impact on agriculture and other sectors of the Cuban economy.
"There is another project that is related to the geological heritage and identity in our territory, where there may be sites of geological interest for tourism, scientific and educational purposes or also places that can become geological parks," explained Castellanos to Xinhua.
After two years of talks, both sides have identified issues of interest to cooperate, based on the existing experience of the two nations, said the Cuban director.
The two MoUs open new perspectives for the island to identify its potentials. Based on the results of these scientific investigations, it can further promote national or foreign investment.
One of the areas the Cuban government seeks to promote is oil exploration, after recent studies offshore and on its territorial waters.
"Cuba is near the Gulf of Mexico, with rich oil and gas resources, but it has a complex terrain structure and basic geological studies are lacking, which makes exploitation difficult. Our purpose is to do that work," said Zhao Qi, deputy director of the Oil and Gas Resources Center under the CGS.
The signing of the documents also broadens the prospects for future exchanges and collaboration projects between the two countries, Zhao said.
Meanwhile, Amilcar Fierro, director general of CEINPET, which belongs to the state-owned company Cuba Oil Union, or Cupet, referred to the importance of this step for the island in its quest to achieve energy self-sufficiency.
"Currently oil production satisfies approximately 50 percent of the demand, but we have the goal to duplicate that production (...) We believe there are oil wells in Cuba's coast and seas which we haven't been able to explore," said Fierro.
The expert said the agreement signed with the CGS will allow access to new technologies and study methods that will complement the experience and knowledge of Caribbean geologists to date.
The signing of the first memorandum between the CGS and IGP was attended by vice minister of Cuba's Ministry of Energy and Mines, Yuri Viamontes, and the Chinese Ambassador in Havana, Chen Xi, who praised this new step to strengthen collaboration between both countries.
According to the MoUs, there will be exchanges of scientific and technical information, study visits, as well as symposiums, conferences and workshops and joint projects.
The CGS cooperates with more than 60 countries, and Cuba is the first in the Caribbean region.