Cuba will produce more than 20 million barrels of crude oil and 1.2 billion cubic meters (42.4 billion cubic feet) of natural gas this year, enough to meet almost half the island's fuel needs, state media reported Wednesday.
Vice President Carlos Lage said Cuba's total energy production exceeds the equivalent of 28 million barrels of oil, an achievement Cuba has not made since 2003, according to front-page stories in the Communist Party daily Granma and the youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde.
The stories quoted Lage, who is Cuba's de facto prime minister and leads the Council of Ministers, as saying crude oil production for 2007 will exceed 20.3 million barrels by Dec. 31 and that natural gas totals will be 1.215 billion cubic meters (43 billion cubic feet).
Visiting the oil-producing city of Cardenas on Tuesday, Lage said those figures represent 47 percent of the island's fuel needs, and that the natural gas recovered while extracting crude now provides 15 percent of electricity used nationwide.
Cuba drilled 32 new wells this year, he said, an exploration effort that has expanded due to rising world oil prices and a tapering off of production at existing Cuban wells.
Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters could contain large quantities of crude, although earlier explorations have turned up only modest discoveries, oil analysts say.
The island produces 75,000 barrels of oil a day, and imports much of the rest on discounted terms from Venezuela, which has become Cuba's chief economic benefactor following the Soviet Union's collapse in the early 1990s.