(MENAFN) Cyprus Commerce Minister, Neoclis Sylikiotis, stated that his country inked a natural gas exploration agreement with a consortium consisting of Italy's ENI and South Korea's Kogas, reported Xinhua News.
Sylikiotis said that the group would be in charge of exploring natural gas in 3 separate areas off the south coast of the country.
Cyprus is developing its hydrocarbon reserves, and the recent licenses represent a big boost for the country to achieve its economic targets, as the island is going through extreme financial issues that forced it to request a bailout from the EU and the IMF.
According to the minister, plans for gas development include setting up an undersea gas pipe and a liquefaction plant on the south Cyprus shore, with an estimated cost of USD13.3 billion.
It is worth noting that the country, whose debt grew to 84 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012's third quarter, plans to expand its established gas reserves and new hydrocarbon discoveries to offset pressure from international banks to launch extra austerity measures in order to protect manageability of the sovereign debt.