Spanish oil company Repsol plans to plug and abandon a dry well drilled 4,500m into the sea bed of the Gulf of Mexico, off Cuba’s northern coast.

The company operated the well in a consortium alongside Norway’s Statoil and a unit of India’s ONGC.

"Italy’s Saipem owned drilling rig Scarabeo 9 was used to drill the first well at the end of January 2012."

This was first of three planned wells – the second well is expected to be drilled by Petronas and the third well by Venezuela’s PDVSA.

Repsol’s spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying: "I can confirm that the Repsol well in Cuba has been reported to be unsuccessful and that we are proceeding to plug and abandon the well."

Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, in partnership with Russian’s Gazprom Neft SIBB.MM, will drill the second well about 160km west of the current drill site.

Italy’s Saipem owned drilling rig Scarabeo 9 was used to drill the first well at the end of January 2012 and the same rig will be used to drill the second and third wells.

Dry holes in deep water are estimated to cost $175m, but Repsol will split this cost with its partners.