Russian state oil company Zarubezhneft has signed contracts with Cuba to search for oil along the island’s northern coast.

Zarubezhneft signed a deal with state-owned Cuba Petroleos for four almost contiguous blocks – two onshore and two offshore – in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cuba has signed offshore exploration deals with eight other companies, and says the waters may hold 20 billion barrels of untapped oil with only one test well drilled, reported Reuters.

Big oil finds in the gulf could turn Cuba, which is deep in financial crisis, into an oil exporter.