NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' energy minister said Wednesday that exploratory drilling in the first of six potential gas fields off the east Mediterranean island's coast is slated to begin before the end of summer.
Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the fields lie in three sections where a consortium made up of Italy's Eni and South Korea's Kogas is licensed to drill.
Lakkotrypis said a rig will start heading to Cyprus from Mozambique in the coming days and that drilling will start on the "Onasagoras" field, named after an ancient Cypriot king.
He said the fields show "encouraging signs" of containing gas, but stressed that nothing is certain until actual drilling is done.
The minister said Cyprus has agreed with Eni and Kogas to cooperate on an onshore gas processing facility as the top option of developing the country's gas reserves.
Cyprus has signed similar deals with France's Total and U.S. firm Noble Energy. Noble and Israel's Delek and Avner are partners in a Cypriot gas field that's estimated to contain between 3.6 trillion and 6 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Lakkotrypis said the multibillion euro (dollar) facility that would convert the gas into liquid for easier transport remains the best option for Cyprus to export excess supply, but its construction depends on additional gasquantities being found.