Timing of third gas bidding round in Cyprus undecided-minister

Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:53pm EDT

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* ENI has until December to finalise terms

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NICOSIA, June 21 (Reuters) - The timing of a third bidding round for Cyprus' gas acreage has yet to be determined as two blocks from the second round have not been finalised, the energy minister said on Friday.

Cyprus, which received an international financial bailout earlier this year, is keen to develop untapped offshore gas reserves to power future economic growth.

So far, it has allocated gas exploration acreage in two bidding rounds and signed production sharing contracts with U.S. based Noble Energy, France's Total and South Korea's KoGas.

Cyprus Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said the second round was not quite closed and the timing of the third round had yet to be decided.

Charles Ellinas, chief executive of state-owned Cyprus National Hydrocarbon Company, said Italy's ENI was still finalising the terms for its production-sharing agreement and had been given until December to decide on two outstanding blocks.

"There is still an option left open for ENI for additional blocks until December," Ellinas said.

ENI was not immediately available for comment.

Lakkotrypis said the revenues from the gas will be dealt with through a sovereign wealth fund, which will be set up shortly, modelled on Norway's oil fund.

One of the biggest investors in the world, Norway's fund invests the money from its oil industry in the nation's future.

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