Relief in sight? Russian oil arrives in Cuba.

This past weekend Cuban state-run media announced the good news that 90,000 metric tons of Russian oil had arrived in the country currently suffering a cash and fuel shortage which has given rise to increased social tensions. The Russian oil will help alleviate power outages and gasoline shortages.

In 2022, Russia resumed some oil shipments to the Caribbean island after they had ceased them with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, according to shipping data, no Russian oil left the country for Cuba last year even as Russian media reported in June an agreement was reached between the two governments to supply 1.64 million metric tons of oil and derivatives annually.

Jorge Piñon, who studies Cuba’s energy infrastructure and supply at the University of Texas at Austin, put the value of the shipment at $46 million. Piñon said it was too early to tell if the arrival of the oil meant regular shipments would resume.

According to Energy and Mines Minister Vicente de la O Levy, the Communist-run country needs 8 million metric tons of oil and equivalents annually, of which 3 million tons are produced locally.

Venezuela is Cuba’s main supplier of oil, but shipments have declined in recent years. Last year Mexico exported significant amounts of oil to Cuba but has not done so this year.

Cuba has been mired in crisis since the decade began with the Gross Domestic product down 10% from the 2019 mark resulting in a scarcity of food, medicine and other basic goods.

Fuel consumption has been around 6.5 million metric tons during this period, according to the government, which has said that so far this year fuel imports have fallen further, resulting in lengthier blackouts and less gasoline.

The social tensions Cuba has experienced recently have led to more unrest than the island has seen since the 1959 revolution and has resulted in mass migration, mainly to the U.S.

The Cuban government largely blames U.S. sanctions for the crisis and U.S. subversion for the unrest, charges that Washington denies.