LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Cyprus said on Wednesday it had picked Eni, Total and ExxonMobil for three oil and gas exploration licences in the Mediterranean close to where Eni made the biggest gas find in the past decade.

The Cypriot government awarded Eni and Total a joint exploration block, while Eni also won another on its own and a third went to ExxonMobil in partnership with Qatar Petroleum, the energy ministry said.

Statoil and Cairn together with Avner and Delek had also applied for licences but missed out.

Exploration opportunities in the Mediterranean’s Levant basin have become more interesting following Eni’s discovery of the giant Zohr gas field offshore Egypt last year that is estimated to contain a bumper 850 billion cubic metres of gas.

Eni has raised more than $2 billion in recent weeks with stake sales in the concession containing Zohr to Rosneft and BP.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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