President Fidel Castro announced the discovery of a crude oil deposit off shore Cuba apparently containing 100 million barrels.
Speaking before the National Assembly in Havana at closed doors but only revealed in Christmas Mr. Castro said "This is the first discovery since 1999; an exploratory well drilled between December 14/19 produced a thousand tons".
The deposit should be in full production 2006/07 in association with the Canadian oil company Sheritt that has been working with the Cuban oil company and energy producing plants for almost two decades.
The well on the north coast of the island is 55 kilometres east of Havana.
For Cuba with a production of 75,000 bpd, the Xmas announcement is a true gift since the country imports over half of its consumption, mostly from political ally Venezuela.
Oil specialists believe Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico could contain large quantities of crude, similar to those exploited by Mexico and United States.
Purchases from Venezuela in the framework of an energy agreement signed in 2000 are partly paid by Cuban doctors and teachers working in Venezuela's shanty towns. The news was coincident with Mr. Castro's public walking reappearance two months after having broken his knee cap and fractured an arm during a speech last October 20.
Wearing his olive green military uniform Mr. Castro was shown walking to the National Assembly aided by a young girl where he was cheered and applauded by hundreds of law drafters.
Mr. Castro stood briefly in public a month ago to receive visiting Chinese president Hu Jintao and when Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez visited him a week ago.