US-based Noble Energy has requested that a third share of its block of exploitable gas off Cyprus be given to BG International, Cypriot officials said on Monday.
"The ministry of energy announces that it has received, today, a request from Noble Energy International for a farm-out agreement with BG International, for a portion of its interest in Block 12 offshore Cyprus," said a statement.
According to the agreement, BG International is acquiring a 35-percent interest in Block 12, which includes the "Aphrodite" natural gas discovery, it said.
Noble will operate Block 12 with a 35-percent stake, while Israeli firms Delek Drilling Limited Partnership and Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership each hold 15 percent.
The agreement is subject to approval by the Cyprus cabinet.
"It is an important step towards Aphrodite's development," said the statement.
"Moreover, it constitutes an alignment of upstream and midstream interests, as BG International... is part of the BG Group that holds equity in the LNG export facility at Idku, in Egypt," it added.
Texas firm Noble Energy made the first find off the southeast coast in 2011 in the Aphrodite field, which is estimated to contain about 127.4 billion cubic metres (4.54 trillion cubic feet) of gas.
Cyprus needs to find more gas reserves to make a planned onshore terminal financially viable as it seeks to become a regional energy player.
It had planned to build a liquefied natural gas plant that would allow exports by ship to Asia and Europe, but the reserves confirmed so far are insufficient to make that feasible.
Cyprus and energy-starved Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite field to Egypt via an undersea pipeline. Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas, and maybe oil, by 2022.