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Cyprus signs deal with France's Total to extend offshore natural gas exploration

NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus and French oil and gas company Total have signed an agreement to extend a search for natural gas off the east Mediterranean island’s southern coast after disappointing results from an initial exploration round.

Cyprus’ energy ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Total will continue its search in one of two areas where it’s already licensed to drill.

Total said in January that it failed to find any potential gas fields to warrant any drilling near an area where U.S. company Noble Energy discovered a field estimated to contain around 4 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis had said at the time that leaving Cyprus was one option available to Total.