The cabinet on Monday licensed energy companies ENI and Total to explore block seven of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and approved a partnership between the two in five other blocks.
The cabinet also approved nine other drills inside the EEZ within the next couple of years.
Block seven neighbours the Calypso field in block six where ENI carried out an exploratory drill early in 2018 and is believed to hold between six and eight trillion cubic feet.
Total and ENI had applied for an exploration licence in block seven back in November 2018.
The joint projects include block three where in February 2018 Turkish warships prevented an ENI drillship from carrying out a drill.
Ankara has repeatedly warned Cyprus against taking “unilateral steps” in exploring and developing hydrocarbons without factoring in the Turkish Cypriots.
In September 2001, Turkey and the north signed a ‘continental shelf delineation agreement’.
Turkey’s claims on the island’s EEZ partly overlap with Cyprus’ blocks 1, 4, 6 and 7. Ankara also supports the north’s claims on blocks 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 13, including within few kilometres from the Aphrodite gas field.
Turkey is currently carrying out exploration west and east of Cyprus, prompting protests.