Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil have signed a contract with the Cyprus government for oil and gas exploration and production offshore Block 10 in the Mediterranean Sea.

The contract signing follows the completion of bidding round under the third licensing round to explore for potential hydrocarbon reserves in block 10 off the coast of Cyprus.

Cyprus Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis was reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying that the country’s third licensing round was aimed at advancing the exploration for hydrocarbons potential at its exclusive economic zone.

Lakkotrypis said that exploration and production sharing contracts are due to be signed by Italy's Eni and France's Total for block 6, and by Eni for block 8 in near future.

The Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil consortium partners are planning to commence drilling for oil and gas offshore Block 10 in 2018. As part of this effort, the partners have already commenced a 3D seismic survey.

Qatar Petroleum president and CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said: “This agreement expands our international upstream footprint into the eastern Mediterranean for what we hope is one of the most promising opportunities in the area.”

The block 10 of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone is located near the Eni discovered giant gas field, Zohr, in the Egyptian waters.

According to estimates, the Eni’s Zohr field holds 30 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

ExxonMobil senior vice-president Andrew Swiger said: "We look forward to working with the government of Cyprus to evaluate and realize the country's hydrocarbon potential.”