In what looks a lot like a giant bear hug, Russia announced this week that it will offer Cuba 55 bilateral cooperation projects totaling more than $4 billion.
According to Russia’s Deputy Minister of Economics Nikolai Podguzov, “Cuba was offered 55 projects to be implemented in 2016-2020, totaling almost $4 bln,” the Russian deputy minister said after a meeting of the Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical cooperation, held in Havana this week.
Other news from the Commission include a report that Russian state-owned firm, RusHydro, has proposed building a network of small hydropower plants in Cuba.
In a related development at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week, Russia and Cuba signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of nuclear and atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
The agreement, signed by the deputy head of Russia’s Rosatom State Corporation for Atomic Energy Nikolai Spassky and Cuba’s Deputy Science Minister Jose Fidel Santana, creates the groundwork for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the nuclear field including such areas as radioisotope production and their use in industry, medicine, agriculture, security and environmental research.
Another widely reported area of cooperation includes Russian oil supplies – possibly in exchange for commodities.
2016 – Biotechnology
In September, Russia and Cuba concluded a scientific and technological agreement between the Russia’s Skolkovo Innovation Fund and Cuba’s Biocubafarma.
The Vice president of Skolkovo, Kiril Kaem and the deputy Vice president of Biocubafarma, Educardo Martinez, signed the agreement during the 33 World Conference of the International Association of Technological and Innovations Parks in Moscow.
2015 – Conventional Power Plants & Metals
The Russian government has ratified an agreement to provide generators at Cuba’s Maximo Gomes and Este Habana power plants, among other concessions.
The Maximo Gomes power plant in Mariel municipality will be equipped with a new 200 MW unit, while Este Habana in Santa Cruz del Norte municipality will have three new 200 MW generators installed.
Russia will reportedly loan Cuba approximately $1.3b billion to expand its power generating capacity. The loan repayment term is reportedly 10-years.
This agreement with Russia is part of a larger plan announced by Castro to double electricity generating capacity by 2030.
In addition, the Russian Cabinet approved a draft agreement for a credit of $100m to modernize and expand Cuba’s metallurgical plant Antillana de Acero (Empresa Siderúrgica José Martí). According to Platts, the electric arc plant produced approximately 400,000 t/y in 2008.
The new Russian loan is part of the restructuring of the $32 billion defaulted debt owed to the Soviet Union. In 2013, Russia agreed to write off 90% of the Soviet debt and open up new credits to Cuba.
According to reports, the remaining 10%, or $3.5b, is to be reinvested in the Cuban economy. It is unclear if this new loan represents such a re-investment in Cuba’s economy.
Inter RAO – Export, a subsidiary of Russian energy producer Inter RAO, will partner up with Cuba’s Energoimport, itself part of Union Electrica of Cuba. Union Electrica is a Cuban state energy company with a total capacity of 3.7gw specializing in electricity generation, transmission and distribution.
According to Alfredo Lopez, Minister of Energy and Mines, wind energy is the focus of an effort to generate 24% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Reportedly, Cuban officials are planning to attract more than $600m in foreign investment to finance construction of renewables.