Energy companies Total of France and Italy's Eni have teamed up to expand their search for natural gas off southern coast, signing a licensing agreement Wednesday.
Cypriot Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis said the companies will have an equal share in a new block into which a gas deposit that Eni discovered in an adjacent block last year is believed to extend.
Lakkotrypis said Total also gains a 20-40% share in four of Eni's concessions inside Cyprus' exclusive economic zone. Korea's Kogas is also a partner with a 20% share in three of the four concessions.
With Wednesday's signing, Eni and Total now hold exploration licenses for seven of Cyprus' 13 blocks. ExxonMobil and a partnership between Texas-based Noble Energy, Dutch Shell and Israeli Delek hold licenses for one block each.
The two companies are expected to drill six wells in their blocks over the next two years.
Earlier this year, ExxonMobil and partners Qatar Petroleum announced the discovery of a gas field in their concession estimated to contain 5-8 trillion square feet of gas.
Noble Energy discovered a field of its own estimated to hold 4.1 trillion cubic feet of gas back in 2011.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told The Associated Press on Tuesday that there are "sufficient quantities" of gas in Cypriot waters for exploitation.
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