Cuba has tried to sell base oils and lubricants to U.S. firms and use the revenue to buy other needed oil products from another U.S. company, according to a CIA report obtained by The Chicago Tribune.
The sales and purchases were to be financed through Panamanian banks that have correspondent relationships with the National Bank of Cuba, the CIA reported.
Such a series of transactions would violate the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba. The Cubans were so anxious to make the deal, according to a source upon which the CIA report is based, that they indicated the oils and lubricants they offered wuld be "very competitively priced."
"The Cubans cannot get these additives from the U.S.S.R., which does not manufacture them, and is seeking a more reliable source of supply," the CIA report said. "These additives are used in the oil products the Cubans are trying to market in the United States."
Cuba has been purchasing the additives, made by a U.S. company that was not identified in the report, from one source in Canada and another in France, according to the report.
The CIA stressed that its report was "not finally evaluated intelligence," and it was distributed only as "an information report." It is classified secret.
According to the report, Celia Caridad Abrahantes Figurerdo, a member of the Cuban national assembly, and Baudilio Castellanos, manager of exports and imports for Cuba's petroleum industry, outlined the plan last July.
The Cubans tried to sell base oils, including 70,000 metric tons of SAE 140 oil, 20,000 metric tons of heavy cylinder oil, and 20,000 to 30,000 metric tons of turbine "L" oil. The amounts could be supplied annually, they said.
The Cubans also wanted to sell 3,250 metric tons per year of lubricants for motors and transmissions to a small U.S. refiner.
Cuba depends on the Soviet Union for nearly all its oil. It has reached agreement over the last year with Mexico to begin geological exploration off Cuban shores and to improve its refining capacities.