China National Offshore Oil Corp. is one of several major foreign energy companies that have expressed interest in acquiring a license to explore for natural gas offshore Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.
Cyprus launched a second licensing round for 12 blocks in its offshore exclusive economic zone, Interior Minister Neoklis Silikiotis said in the report.
The blocks on offer didn't include an area where Noble Energy Inc. (>> Noble Energy, Inc.) found gas in 2011, Xinhua said.
Silikiotis didn't directly answer a question regarding a media report that Cnooc had submitted a proposal to buy into the block that Noble Energy is currently working, it said, noting that Noble had also found gas in two blocks offshore Israel, it said.
Among the Cyprus government's top priorities is establishing a state energy company to develop hydrocarbon reserves, the minister said, adding that Cyprus and Israel are currently considering a plan for joint development of their respective natural gas reserves that includes building a gas pipeline to the south Cyprus shore.
-By Simon Hall, Dow Jones Newswires, +86 10 8400-7755; firstname.lastname@example.org