HAVANA, July 11 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he was hopeful Russian oil company Rosneft and Cuban state oil company Cupet could begin jointly exploring Cuba's potential offshore oil reserves "in the very near future."
Shortly before Putin began his six-day trip to Latin America, Rosneft and fellow state oil company Zarubezhneft agreed to help Cupet explore offshore in Cuba, which has limited onshore production and depends on Venezuela for oil imports.
Putin also said a number of Russian companies were interested in doing business in Cuba's new special economic zone at the port of Mariel near Havana. Cuba has touted the special zone as crucial for its development but so far no foreign companies have signed agreements to operate there. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Marguerita Choy)