Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil to explore for oil and gas in Cyprus

The logo of Exxon Mobil Corporation is shown on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 30, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar Petroleum (QP) [QATPE.UL] and ExxonMobil will start drilling for oil and gas off the southern coast of Cyprus in 2018, the Qatari firm said after signing an exploration and production sharing contract with the Mediterranean island.

Exploring the Mediterranean’s Levant Basin has become more attractive since Eni discovered Egypt’s offshore Zohr field in 2015, the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean and estimated to contain 850 billion cubic meters of gas.

State-owned Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil were among bidders last year for a contract for Cyprus’s offshore Block 10.

“A 3D seismic survey is already underway, as the consortium partners prepare to begin exploration drilling in 2018,” QP said in a statement.

To maintain its dominance over competitors in the United States and Australia, QP is cutting costs at its domestic operations and seeking to expand overseas through joint ventures with international oil firms, QP said in February.

Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Edmund Blair