NICOSIA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Just one application for natural gas exploration licensing was received when Cyprus invited bids for an offshore block off its southwestern shores, state television reported on Monday.
It quoted a Ministry of Energy statement as saying that the application for block 7 of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone was submitted by a consortium made up by the Cyprus subsidiaries of France's Total and Italy's ENI.
Block 7 is one of few Cypriot offshore energy blocks on which Turkey has not laid any claims.
Ankara has objected to the licensing of several other blocks, claiming that they are within its own continental shelf or within the exclusive economic zone of a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state which the United nations have declared to be illegal and non-existent.
Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a state and does not accept its exclusive economic zone demarcated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Cypriot Energy Ministry said in its statement that it will soon submit a proposal to the Council of Ministers so as to proceed with the licensing of block 7.
The ENI/Total consortium has obtained licenses for gas exploration in two other blocks, while ENI on its own or in association with South Korean Kogas has concessions in four more blocks.
The United States based ExxonMobil is currently drilling in a block close to Egypt's giant Zohr gas field.
Cyprus has discovered two medium-sized gas fields off its south shores and if the ExxonMobil drilling proves successful it will definitely place the eastern Mediterranean island among energy producing countries.