Venezuela and Cuba will begin jointly exploring for oil in Cuban waters in the first such venture between the two nations.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, said in a statement that the project with Cuba’s CUPET energy company covers 10,000 square kilometers and is scheduled to begin this week. The companies expect to discover light crude after conducting a seismic study, PDVSA said.

President Hugo Chavez has signed numerous cooperation agreements with Cuba since taking office in 1999. Under one agreement, Venezuela — one of Latin America’s top petroleum producers — sells roughly 98,000 barrels of crude a day to Cuba. In return, Cuba provides Venezuela with thousands of Cuban doctors who help treat the poor.