ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum have signed a deal with Cyprus to carry out exploratory drilling off the east Mediterranean island's southern coast.
Qatar Petroleum chief executive Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told the AP there's "a strong possibility" that the geological structure in the area where the partnership is licensed to drill could potentially hold hydrocarbons.
Al-Kaabi said after signing ceremony on Wednesday that a first exploration well is scheduled to be drilled in the first half of 2018.
ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Andrew Swiger said three-dimensional seismic surveys will first be conducted to determine the best drilling locations.
It's the first time that ExxonMobil has looked for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, where recent large finds in Egyptian and Israeli waters have raised hopes that more could be found