HAVANA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Cuba bets on major investments to discover new oil reserves in the short term as well as expanding foreign investment in this sector despite a volatile international landscape, according to a senior industry official on Tuesday.
"Cuba currently produces a total of 57,500 barrels of equivalent oil per day and this volume covers 60 percent of the national demand to generate electricity. We are working on increasing production in the coming years," Osvaldo Lopez, head of exploration at the state-owned oil firm Cuba Oil Union (CUPET) told Xinhua.
Due to Venezuela's economic crisis, shipments from the South American nation have been nearly cut in half to around 55,000 barrels per day, which has forced Cuba to resume oil imports from Russia and Algeria.
Despite this situation, the goal of the Cuban government is to completely satisfy the country's domestic demand with national production, which today only meets 50 percent demand.
"About 99.4 percent of Cuba's production is located in an oil strip of 750 square km between the capital and the resort town of Varadero, about 140 km east of Havana, and the other 0.6 percent, in the central region of the country," he added.
Since 2013, Cuba's oil production has decreased between 4 and 7 percent due to the low rates of new wells drilled each year amid difficult economic conditions the island is experiencing, said the official.
Last year only two wells were drilled, although in the coming months three will be put into operation and another three will begin the exploration phase.
"The goal is to increase production with low risk. Oil exploration is expensive and uncertain but it's the only way to make new discoveries, add reserves and compensate the balance between what is extracted and what is added," said the CUPET official on the sidelines of Cuba's 7th Oil and Gas Congress.
CUPET also seeks to sign five new contracts in the near future with foreign companies for deep-water drilling and offshore production, he stated.
Cuba's foreign investment business portfolio offers different joint ventures in the sector as CUPET estimates the country has oil and gas production potential equivalent to 22 million barrels per year.