Cyprus energy minister: drilling in 1st of 6 potential gas fields to start before summer's end

Cyprus' energy minister says exploratory drilling in the first of six potential gas fields off the east Mediterranean island's coast is slated to begin before the end of summer.

Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said Wednesday the fields lie in three sections, or 'blocks,' where a consortium made up of Italy's Eni and South Korea's Kogas is licensed to drill.

He said Cyprus has agreed with Eni and Kogas to cooperate on an onshore gas processing facility as the top option of developing the country's gas reserves.

Cyprus has signed similar deals with France's Total and U.S. firm Noble Energy. Noble and Israel's Delek and Avner are partners in a Cypriot gas field that's estimated to contain between 3.6 trillion and 6 trillion cubic feet of gas.