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Total likely to continue search for natural gas in Cyprus' offshore fields

NICOSIA, Jan 27 (Xinhua) -- French energy developer Total will most likely continue its search for hydrocarbons in Cyprus's offshore fields despite an initial decision to pull out, Cypriot Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday.

Lakkotrypis said the decision came after the government consented to extending Total's search program by a year.

Total had been granted a concession to survey and drill for oil or gas in blocks 10 and 11, which lie about 85 km off the eastern Mediterranean island's southern shores.

But Total informed the Cypriot government that it was pulling out of the project as per its contract without carrying out any drilling because the company had not located any potential drilling targets.

The minister said a legal loophole was found which allowed the extension of Total's surveying program in block 11 until Feb. 16, 2016. After that it will be decided whether exploratory drilling is warranted.

"The draft agreement is now being formulated by the legal department and is expected to be finalized either this or next week," Lakkotrypis said.

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