The government will next week name the companies with which it will engage in talks with a view to awarding them offshore exploration concessions, energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Thursday.
The selection of the preferred bidders does not mean that the same will be awarded the concessions.
A final decision – awarding concessions or not, and for which offshore blocks – is expected around late February.
Cyprus launched its third offshore licensing round in May 2016. Three blocks (6, 8 and 10) have been put up for auction.
Eight energy companies filed six bids for the three offshore blocks as follows: Block 6: ENI/Total; Block 8: ENI, Cairn/Delek; and Block 10: ENI/Total, ExxonMobil/Qatar Petroleum (QP), Statoil.
Oil major Total meanwhile plans to drill its first well in its Block 11 concession – awarded in the second licensing round – during the second quarter of 2017.
Lakkotrypis said there were indications that the size of the target could be as large as the Aphrodite reservoir in Block 12, operated by Noble Energy.