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House Republicans: China is drilling off Cuba; UM expert, Oh no they're not

With gas topping $4 a gallon, it comes as no surprise that some members of Congress are looking to open up new areas to drill -- including the Outer Continental Shelf.

Pro-drilling Rep. John Peterson, R-Penn., tomorrow plans to ask a House subcommittee to lift a prohibition on gas and oil exploration from 50 to 200 miles offshore. In hopes of making their case, House Republicans today shopped around an Investor's Business Daily editorial claiming that while the US coastline is off-limits, "China and Cuba drill 60 miles from Key West, Fla."

Really?

Not so fast, says Jorge Pinon, an energy fellow with the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. First, China doesn't hold any offshore oil concessions in Cuba. And though the island nation has partnered with a number of nations proficient in deep water drilling, there's not been any action since June 2004 because the deep water drilling equipment is needed elsewhere, Pinon says. And some of the companies have expressed reservations about how to turn the potential crude into product: Cuba doesn't have the refinery capacity and the Cuban embargo prohibits it from coming to the U.S.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service reported in February that "while there has been some concern about China's potential involvement in offshore deepwater oil projects, to date its involvement in Cuba's oil sector has been focused on onshore oil extraction in Pinar del Rio province through its state-run China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation."

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