International oil companies believe there is still great potential to make new oil discoveries in Cuba since most of the island remains unexplored.
At a three-day meeting that started Wednesday, more than 200 experts from 15 oil companies shared their experiences in boosting the Cuban oil and gas industry.
The "Cuba Oil and Gas Summit 2017," hosted by Cuba's state-owned oil company CUPET, was aimed at attracting foreign investment.
Cuba has not made any major oil discoveries since 2002, according to Roberto Suarez, deputy general director of CUPET.
Cuba is looking to relaunch its own oil industry, particularly for offshore explorations and drilling, to reduce its dependence on oil imports, which currently account for more than 50 per cent of the nation's needs.
"Our company believes Cuba has a rich natural endowment of oil and gas, particularly in the onshore sector where there are wells, existing production and reserves," Peter Strickland, managing director of Australia's Melbana Energy, told Xinhua.
This company has signed a production-sharing contract in Cuba's Block 9, about 140 km east of Havana.
The zone, which CUPET calls the North Belt, has been divided into 45 separate blocks to intensify shallow water and onshore exploration.
Strickland said Melbana Energy's block is at the exploration stage and the company has made "very encouraging" initial studies in the area.
"Our initial plans were to drill in 2019 or 2020. But I think with the work done so far, we can accelerate that. Potentially we might be drilling in 2018 if we can complete the technical, commercial and financial steps," he said.
Initial studies showed potential for approximately 600 million oil barrels in Block 9. "It's a lot of oil but it does come with risks...Until we drill, we won't know if that potential is real or not," Strickland told Xinhua.
Melbana Energy, which changed its name from MEO Australia, announced the great potential of its block in 2016 and estimated it could recover about 395 million barrels.
The discovery made CUPET enthusiastic about the future of this joint contract, especially as it began a massive seismic study covering 25,000 square kilometers around the island in December.
The survey is being carried out by BGP Inc, a Chinese geophysical company, with new high-definition technologies and software.
"The study is around 70 per cent complete and is showing very good images and potential for oil discovery in Cuba. The data shows that we can help CUPET find oil in this country," Xing Hongkai, general manager of BGP Inc, told Xinhua.