Cyprus says small gas deposit found but hopeful of more

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - Cyprus' energy minister says exploratory drilling off the island's southern coast has discovered a small gas deposit that contains "less than" 0.5 trillion cubic feet of the hydrocarbon, not enough to make it commercially viable.

But Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said Tuesday the fact that gas was discovered in an area whose geological make-up is similar to that off Egypt where a huge discovery was made recently offers "encouraging signs" that more could be found.

Drilling was conducted by a consortium made up of French energy company Total and Italy's Eni. Other major hydrocarbons companies including ExxonMobil are also licensed to carry out exploratory drilling in eight areas south of Cyprus.

In earlier drilling, Texas-based Noble Energy discovered a field off Cyprus estimated to contain over 4 trillion cubic feet in reserves.

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