The Cyprus government has renewed an agreement with Italian energy company Eni and its South Korean partner KOGAS to search for oil and gas in waters off the Mediterranean island's southern coast.

Eni said in August that it discovered off Egypt's coast what it called the biggest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean sea.

Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis says Eni's license to search in three areas has been extended to February 2018.

He said after a Cabinet meeting Monday exploratory drilling could begin sometime in 2017, but a consortium study is still in its preliminary stage.

Earlier this month, French energy company Total also renewed its license to search for oil and gas off Cyprus for two more years.