Russia has signed a deal with Cuba to drill for oil in the waters off the island nation.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin signed four contracts acquiring exploration rights in Cuba's economic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, Cuban state media reported.
Russia's Zarubezhneft oil concern will work along with the Cubapetroleo oil monopoly to search for oil and natural gas, according to the BBC.
Cuba's share of the Gulf was set in 1977, when it signed treaties with the United States and Mexico.
The U.S. Geological Survey recently estimated that up to 9 billion barrels of oil and 21 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could lie within Cuba's zone. But Cuba claims there may be 20 billion barrels of oil off its coast.
Cuba imports more than half of its daily oil consumption of about 163,000 barrels a day, according to the World Factbook. Most of its imported oil comes from Venezuela at a subsidized price.
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