The Cyprus government has approved a two-year extension for the licenses of Italy’s ENI and its South Korean partner KOGAS to explore oil and gas reservoirs off the southern coast of the Mediterranean island, Hellenic Shipping News reported. The extension will facilitate ENI to evaluate the hydrocarbon potential in Blocks 2, 3, and 9 in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, according to Zacks.

Although the consortium study is in a preliminary stage, ENI is expected to start exploratory drilling in three areas in 2017 and continue until February 2018, Cyprus Energy Minister, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said.

Earlier in December, French energy company Total had also renewed its license to search for oil and gas off Cyprus for two more years, ABC News informed.