NICOSIA, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Energy companies ENI and Kogas will start exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus in coming weeks, the island's energy minister said on Thursday.
Kogas and ENI, which are partners, have concessions over three offshore areas in the Mediterranean south of Cyprus.
"We are very close to starting and its a schedule which will last between 12 and 18 months, depending on the findings," Yorgos Lakkotrypis, Cyprus's energy minister, said on the sidelines of a conference in Nicosia.
He declined to be more specific about when the drilling would start.
It takes about 80 days on average for each drill to be completed, and at least four drills were expected, Lakkotrypis said.
U.S. company Noble has reported a 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) gas find in another offshore concession south of the island. (Reporting By Michele Kambas; editing by Susan Thomas)