Cuban-focused oil company MEO Australia reinvents itself as Melbana Energy

MEO Australia to start work under a new name, Melbana Energy, to reflect its focus on the potential for oil in Cuba. Photo by U.S. Department of State/UPI

MELBOURNE, Nov. 7 (UPI) — A company formerly known as MEO Australia said it would start trading under a name that better reflects its focus on emerging Cuban oil and gas developments.

“Melbana Energy Ltd, formerly MEO Australia Ltd, advises that it will commence trading under the new ASX ticker ‘MAY’ on Tuesday,” the company said in a statement.

Cuba produces about 80,000 barrels of oil per day. In an update on operations through the end of September, the company, one of the few Western companies working in Cuba, said it identified oil plays in so-called Block 9 that combine for an estimated 8.2 billion barrels of oil in place. The company’s best estimate is that it could recover about 395 million of those barrels

The company last week cleared the necessary steps for the name change. Peter Stickland, the company’s chief executive officer, said in response to emailed questions the name was made up, but put forward as one with a Spanish flair.

“We felt that our former name was not relevant given our current portfolio and future ambitions and this was an opportunity to relaunch the company,” he said.

Cuba is the company’s highest-priority asset and it’s already drilled a number of wells in Block 9.

Cuba-focused and London-based investor Leni Gas Cuba took a 15.8 percent stake in MEO Australia in exchange for $1.4 million to support an exploration program covering 900 square miles of an oil exploration block near the coast of Cuba in February. In mid-September, the company said it was selling off parts of its holdings in a potentially lucrative basin off the coast of Australia to help fund opportunities in Cuba.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive directive in October that could open Cuba to a role in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which Washington said could provide an advantage to the Cuban economy. A thaw in relations between the two former Cold War foes began in 2014.


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