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Cyprus signs offshore gas drilling deal with consortium of Italy's Eni, South Korea's KOGAS

Cyprus has signed a deal with a consortium including Italy's ENI S.p.a and South Korea's Kogas to drill for natural gas off the country's southern coast.

Cyprus Commerce Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis says a signing bonus of €150 million ($200 million) will flow into state coffers. That's good news for the cash-strapped country that only has enough money to pay salaries until March, when it hopes to secure a rescue package from the other 16 countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund.

The consortium is licensed to drill in areas above a gas field that U.S. firm Noble Energy estimates holds 5-8 trillion cubic feet (140-230 billion cubic meters).