Cuba's hopes of an oil bonanza, offering the possibility of not only meeting its own needs but of exporting to regional partners, were dashed earlier this year.
After three failed attempts to access the 5 to 9 billion barrels of oil believed to lie in Cuban coastal waters, the Chinese-built Scarabeo 9 rig, leased first by Spanish company Repsol, then Malaysia's Petronas, followed by Venezuela's PDVSA, left the Caribbean.
Its place has been taken by the Songa Mercur platform, owned by Songa Offshore of Norway and leased by Russia's Zarubezhneft company after refitting with non-US components in Trinidad and Tobago.
The refitting was necessary to get below the 10 per cent maximum of US material needed to avoid enforcement of the criminal US economic blockade of Cuba.
Drilling by the Songa Mercur, which is said to be imminent, is expected to last for six months.
It will take place in shallower waters to the north of the island, which is a sensitive area, given its proximity to Cuba's beautiful beach resorts that attract millions of foreign tourists each year.
However, Communist Party daily Granma reported that the rig had undergone stringent safety inspections and is capable of drilling with minimum environmental risk.
"The new well has the objective of determining the potential of petroleum and natural gas in this sector of our country," Granma commented.
While Cuba is investing heavily in the search for oil and natural gas, it is not placing all its eggs in one basket, as shown by its reopening of a century-old hydro power station this week.
Youth paper Juventud Rebelde explained the initiative as part of Cuba's long-term programme to promote renewable energy.
The hydro power station had been under repair for two years, being upgraded with a state-of-the-art Chinese-made generator, electric panels and speed regulator to increase capacity.
The power-generating scope of the station, built in 1912 next to the small town of Pilotos in Pinar del Rio province, could reach 270kW/h, the paper suggested.
The island has around 180 hydroelectric plants that produce about 65 megawatts a day, although hydropower expert Mario Alberto Arrastia estimates a potential of 10 times that amount.
Cuba is actively engaged in installing solar power concentrations in various parts of the country, which are expected to contribute 10,000kW to the national grid, and it is also building a sixth wind farm in Las Tunas, with hopes of generating between 5,000 and 14,000mw of energy from wind.
The government has pledged that, by the end of this decade, 16 per cent of electricity generated will be from renewable sources.
It plans to build three more bio-diesel factories to produce ecological fuel from a non-edible oil shrub known as "Milky Nut" whose seeds are highly oleaginous but intoxicant.
Juventud Rebelde also drew attention to Cuba's biomass projects, with the initial construction of two modern plants to convert sugar cane waste (bagasse) to energy, offering 20,000kW and 30,000kw respectively.
Cuban biomass also has a domestic angle, with the British firm Havana Energy having a 49 per cent stake in new company Biopower alongside majority shareholder Zerus, a subsidiary of the Cuban state sugar company Azcuba.
While bagasse is the primary interest, the new company is exploring the possibility of burning a hardwood brush called marabu, which has overrun much of Cuba's arable land - up to a third by government estimates.
This would be a win-win situation for all concerned, clearing a problem growth and generating renewable energy.
The chairman of Havana Energy is former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson, who has always been passionate about building trade links between Cuba and his homeland.
The founding editor of the West Highland Free Press and, for a time, correspondent for the Morning Star, was instrumental in bringing then Cuban minister for basic industries Marcus Portal and ambassador Rodney Lopez to Scotland in April 2000.
The aim of the visit was to encourage partnerships with Scottish companies in the development of Cuba's offshore oil and gas industry.
Wilson said then: "There are clear possibilities for the Cubans to learn from Scottish offshore experience and they are extremely interested in forming joint ventures in order to help develop their assets in the Gulf of Mexico."
Other partners have come forward to assist Cuba with offshore exploration, but the former Labour minister's persistence has paid off in the renewables market.
"This is a big step forward for the company and for Cuba and I hope it pushes forward our bilateral economic relations," Wilson commented.
"Cuba has an excellent record both in providing electricity for its people and promoting environmental sustainability. This project will support both objectives. I have the highest regard for the abilities and objectives of our Cuban colleagues," he said.
Havana Energy also indicated that it is in advanced studies for the implementation of a series of hydro turbines in the existing irrigation dams throughout the country.
If our government showed half of the enthusiastic determination of Havana Energy and its chairman to build economic co-operation with Cuba, the results would bring dividends in jobs and income for both sides.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.