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Cuba reviews benefits of UNFC for economic development

Cuba is considering the United Nations Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources (UNFC) as a national resource management tool. UNFC enables consideration of economic benefits as well as environmental and social advantages when applied as a resource reporting tool. In 2014, the Minister of Energy and Mines of Cuba established an ad hoc National Committee to review and analyze UNFC and the benefits of applying the system nationally for solid minerals and petroleum. The National Committee will issue its recommendation to the Minister in 2016.

In order to facilitate the work of the National Committee, a first workshop on UNFC was organized in Havana from 7-9 December 2015.  On 7 December, Yuri Viamontes Lazo, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Mines of Cuba, and Vicente de la Cruz Santell, Director General of the Cuban National Office for Mineral Resources, welcomed participants by noting the importance for Cuba’s economic development of applying international standards such as UNFC.

UNFC encompasses solid mineral and fluid resources as well as renewables, ground water and injection projects. The national workshop was organized to explore the opportunity for effective reporting and management of Cuba’s national endowments at a time when Cuba is working to develop its economy. UNFC is a unique tool that allows countries to monitor, manage and programme development of their natural resources in an optimal way.

The UNFC National Workshop for Cuba was funded by the Norwegian Oil for Development Programme (NORAD). Co-organized by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), UNECE, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM) of Cuba and the National Office for Mineral Resources (ONRM) of Cuba and in cooperation with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), the event was attended by more than 35 Cuban experts from the solid minerals and petroleum sectors, representing MINEM, ONRM, the National Oil Company of Cuba (CUPET) and a wide range of other Government organizations and enterprises, as well as the private sector and academia.

The uptake of UNFC is growing worldwide and will be fuelled even more in the future following the adoption in September 2015 by 193 countries of the Sustainable Development Goals that involve effective management of natural resources. The weight of United Nations approval behind the system underpins its transparency and scientific integrity and enhances its appeal. David MacDonald, Chair of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification and Vice President Segment Reserves for BP, emphasized the practical benefits using UNFC can bring “We will respond positively to Cuba’s enthusiastic request for assistance to explore the possible application of UNFC at the national level. In view of the impressive level of national technical expertise, Cuba has the potential to lead the path for adoption of UNFC in the Latin America and Caribbean region”.

The management of natural resources today faces a myriad of challenges. Worldwide, many natural resource projects experience major difficulties with social acceptance resulting in conflict and financial write-downs. A resource management expert needs to learn how to communicate the technical, economic and social benefits of any project to all stakeholders from governments to industry to investors to local communities and Cuba is no exception. UNFC uniquely allows such communication. 

Per Blystad, Senior Geologist Resource Assessment Team for NPD, in closing the workshop emphasized “Norway supports Cuba in its desire to build a system of classification that will allow the country to fully define its resource base and make informed decisions on the exploitation of Cuba’s abundant natural resources.”

For further information contact: reserves.energy@unece.org