The CEO of Italian oil and gas company Eni, Claudio Descalzi, has announced that exploratory drilling off Cyprus’ southern shore will be initiated in 2017, according to Hellenic Shipping News.

After discussions with Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, Descalzi confirmed that drilling will “for sure” start in 2017. He added that the eastern Mediterranean’s gas potential is “becoming more and more important” following the recent discovery of significant gas fields in the Egyptian and Israeli waters, reported ABC News.

The Italian company, which discovered the biggest gas field ever in the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt’s Zohr field, in 2015, has the rights to drill off Cyprus in three blocks, or areas.

Descalzi said he discussed with Anastasiades a third drilling licensing round whose deadline is set for the 22nd of July 2016. US company Noble Energy and France’s Total are also licensed to drill off Cyprus.

The Times of India quoted Cypriot government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, saying: “We went ahead with the third licensing round due to increased interest in this region and we see from the initial interest that the government’s decision was vindicated. We hope that the general increased interest that exists at this moment will translate very specifically with the ending date for expressions of interest.”