Cuba will begin exploratory drilling in search of oil this weekend, when drilling will start on a rig just 100 kilometres from Florida.
The operation is raising concerns over what happens under the terms of the US embargo, in the event of an incident at sea.
The embargo states that neither American firms nor the coast guard could come to Cuba's assistance or provide equipment to help contain or clean up any oil spills.
(Sarah Rainsford reports from Havana.) Video here.
"A massive $750m (£473m) Chinese-built oil rig, the Scarabeo 9, is due to arrive in Cuba before the end of the year, to begin drilling a series of exploratory wells.A whole range of international oil companies from Spain, Norway, Russia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada, Angola, Venezuela, and China - but not the US - are lining up to hire the rig and search for what are believed to be substantial oil deposits.
"We will drill several wells next year and I'm sure we will have discoveries. It is not a matter of if we have oil, it is a matter of when we are going to start producing," Rafael Tenreiro, head of exploration for the Cuban state-owned oil company Cupet, confidently predicts.
The Spanish company Repsol will be the first to drill, with an exploratory well in extremely deep water just 50 miles (80km) off the coast of Florida."