NICOSIA, July 30 (Xinhua) -- A consortium made up of France's Total and Italy's ENI has been granted a license for natural gas exploratory drilling in block 7 of Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday.
He also announced that Total has been granted a license for blocks 2, 3, 9 and 8 which had been licensed to ENI.
Lakkotrypis announced that the Cabinet approved the granting of a license for offshore block 7 to the two companies with a share of 50 percent each at a meeting overnight on Monday.
He also said that the Cabinet granted Total a license for a 20 percent share in blocks 2 and 9, a 30 percent share in block 3, and a 40 percent share in block 8.
"The framework of cooperation between the Republic of Cyprus and companies Total and ENI, which was an initiative of President Anastasiades himself and the CEOs of Total and ENI, has been concluded," Lakkotrypis said.
"We believe that this arrangement will strengthen the consortium both in technical and economic terms as well as geopolitical... These are necessary in order for them to move on to their drilling activities uninterrupted," he added.
Lakkotrypis further announced that the Cabinet has granted a 12-month extension for blocks 2,3,9,8, and 11.
The Minister said that a total of nine exploratory and appraisal wells will be carried over the next 24 months, starting at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
"The Republic of Cyprus is moving forward with its energy plans," Lakkotrypis stressed.