Natural resources, energy and environment
Cuba’s main natural resources are nickel and cobalt, which are mined in cooperation with foreign companies and exported. For its energy supply, the country relies on oil and natural gas.
Cube’s nickel and cobalt assets are among the largest in the world. Cuba also has assets of oil, natural gas, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, bauxite, and minerals used in the construction industry (limestone, marble and sand).
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Cuba with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
About a third of Cuba’s oil and gas needs are covered by domestic sources, the rest being imported. Most of the oil comes from Venezuela according to a favorable agreement from 2000. However, the economic crisis in Venezuela has caused its imports almost halved since 2014. Cuba has had to look after other oil suppliers and an agreement has been concluded with Russia.
The domestic oil is extracted from some smaller sources along the north coast east of Havana. Companies from many countries are involved in attempts to find new sources of oil, but the waters off the coast of Cuba are deep, which makes searching difficult. Hopes for big bargains have so far come to shame. The government has started investing in alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and biomass. So far, however, only around 1 percent of energy production comes from renewable sources. The goal is for that proportion to have increased to 25 percent by 2030.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, CU stands for Cuba. Visit itypeusa for more information about Cuba.
Almost all electricity is produced in oil-powered power plants. A small part is generated by hydropower or the burning of residues from the sugar industry. The lack of energy and an outdated electricity grid have made the Cubans accustomed to power outages, but the electricity has improved gradually. Through state campaigns, electricity generation has been streamlined.
Emissions from obsolete industrial plants have caused damage to the environment as well as the one-sided investment in sugarcane, which in combination with harvesting has caused soil degradation. In recent decades, environmental awareness has been strengthened and a number of laws have been passed to protect sensitive areas, not least untouched coasts and coral reefs.
Cuba’s long coastline makes the country exposed to climate change. According to the UN Climate Panel’s calculations, large parts of the coastal areas may be inundated with the danger of crops and freshwater reservoirs.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,028 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1442 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
34 837 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
3.0 tons (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
19.3 percent (2015)
Regime critic is arrested
At the end of the month, dozens of regime critics are arrested as they are about to conduct a protest in Havana to test whether the political climate has changed following the historic decision of December 17.
Diplomatic relations with the United States are restored
The US and Cuba announce that diplomatic relations between the countries will be restored. The message comes after more than a year’s talks in Canada and the Vatican, including the Pope as mediator. The breakthrough has taken place since Cuba agreed to release American Alan Gross, who has been incarcerated in Cuba for five years. Cuba releases 53 political prisoners at the same time as the US releases three Cubans who have been imprisoned for espionage. US President Obama says he now intends to work to lift the trade blockade against Cuba that has been in force since the 1960s (read more about the blockade in Foreign Policy and Defense).
Oppositionists are arrested after demonstration attempts
Over 30 opposites are arrested as they attempt to conduct a human rights demonstration in Havana.
More Cuban doctors in the fight against Ebola
The medical force that works against Ebola in West Africa is expanded with 83 doctors and nurses. As a result, Cuba has sent nearly 250 health workers to the area. It is more than any other country or organization has contributed according to the World Health Organization WHO. Cuba’s efforts are praised by the arch-enemy USA who says the country is pleased to be able to work with Cuba to stop Ebola.
Long prison sentence for corruption
Three Canadians and fourteen Cuban officials are sentenced to long prison sentences in a corruption trial. They are condemned for swindling large sums of money in business deals in the sugar mining and tourism industry. The head of the Canadian company group Tokmakjian is sentenced to 15 years in prison. His Cuban counterpart, a former deputy minister for the sugar industry, gets 20 years.
Cuba sends doctors for the fight against Ebola
Cuba sends 165 doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the dreaded viral disease ebola.
State resturants are to be sold
The government announces that the nearly 9,000 state-owned restaurants will be sold to private interests. The plan will be put into effect in 2015. The restaurant visitors can thus hope for a promotion. The state-owned restaurants are known for serving low quality food and having poor service. Lack of goods contributes to the problems.
Bishops demand reform
The country’s Catholic bishops in a document are calling on the government to introduce more reforms. The bishops write that many citizens feel an urgent need for deeper and “more appropriate” reforms, a formulation that can be interpreted as pushing for a political opening. The Castro government has implemented a number of minor economic reforms but has continued to hold firmly to the Communist Party’s power monopoly.
New customs rules are introduced
New rules enter into force for the import of consumer goods. Customs duties are increased and imports of goods that are flown in by private individuals or sent by mail are restricted. The new rules are said to be aimed at black stock trading. They should also protect the state’s monopoly on selling imported goods. Self-employed people are expected to be hit hard by the new rules.
New port opened
A new large port for in-depth vessels opens in the town of Mariel east of Havana. The port has been built in collaboration with Brazil and is adjacent to a newly established economic zone where foreign companies are offered to establish themselves on favorable terms.