ATHENS, March 17 Cyprus's cabinet on Friday
approved contracts with France's Total, Italy's Eni
, Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum to explore for
oil and gas in offshore areas south of the island, officials
Exploring the Mediterranean's Levant Basin has become more
attractive since Eni discovered Egypt's offshore Zohr field in
2015, the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean and estimated
to contain 850 billion cubic metres of gas.
The Cypriot concessions cover exploration rights for three
offshore blocks off the south and southwestern coast and
contracts would be signed on April 5 and 6, Energy Minister
Georgios Lakkotrypis said.
Eni and Total are in a consortium for one of the blocks and
ExxonMobil and Qatar have joined up for another. Eni will be on
its own in a third block. The blocks were offered in the third
licensing round held by Cyprus.
Total, which won rights for another block in a previous
licensing round, planned to conduct drilling this year in Block
11, which borders the Zohr discovery, Lakkotrypis said.
Eni said last week said it had finalised a deal with Total
to buy a 50 percent interest in Block 11, with Total remaining
The Italian firm planned to drill twice this year,
Lakkotrypis said. "Precisely what block has not yet been
defined, that will be acertained with greater clarity by seismic
data," he added.
Noble Energy of the U.S. made Cyprus's first natural
gas discovery offshore in 2011.
(Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Edmund Blair)