Two Ballarat business leaders were part of the first-ever Australian trade mission to Cuba in late February, accompanying outgoing Federal Minister and Special Envoy for Trade, The Hon. Andrew Robb on the landmark trip.
Peter Stickland, Managing Director of oil and gas company, MEO Australia, and Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Chairman and Managing Director of Gekko Systems, were part of a handpicked delegation of 10 Australian business leaders on the trade mission designed to open doors and create relationships between Australia and Cuba. The trip had a particular emphasis on food, agriculture, energy, mining and mining services – areas where Australia is recognised as a global leader.
The trip comes as decades-long hostilities between the United States and Cuba cease, with US President, Barack Obama, due to make an historic visit to Cuba later this month and direct flights between the US and Cuba to start within the next week, opening a flood of tourism into the small Caribbean country.
Mr Stickland said there is a wide range of opportunities in Cuba, particularly in the oil and gas sector where MEO has been active for the past few years. MEO recently secured an agreement to explore and produce oil and gas east of the capital Havana.
“Cuba is naturally blessed with large oil fields, but the country’s oil sector is not producing enough for its own consumption,” Mr Stickland said.
“MEO is looking to help Cuba potentially become self sufficient and who knows – we may discover enough oil for Cuba to become an exporter of oil,” Mr Stickland said.