NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus will give France's Total SA a license to drill for undersea oil and gas deposits off the country's southern coast.

Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said Tuesday that the licensing deal, which will be signed the following day, covers drilling in two of 13 segments, or blocks, that make up the country's exclusive economic zone.

The two blocks lie west of a gas field that holds an estimated 5-8 trillion cubic feet (140-230 billion cubic meters).

The deal comes two weeks after Cyprus licensed a consortium made up of Italy's ENI SpA and South Korea's Kogas to drill in three other blocks.

New revenue from gas production would be good news for cash-strapped Cyprus, which is trying to finalize an international rescue loan for its ailing banks and economy.

 

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