Total may expand search for natural gas off Cyprus coast as it eyes Iran exit

French energy company Total says it’s looking to expand its search for natural gas off Cyprus’s south coast, AP reported. The statement came days after the company warned it could exit Iran over renewed US sanctions there. Stephane Michel, Total’s Middle East exploration chief, said Monday that the company has applied for a license to search for hydrocarbons in Block 8, an area south of Cyprus where Italian company Eni is already licensed to carry out exploratory drilling. Total is partners with Eni in the search for oil and gas in two other areas off Cyprus. Eni said in February it has discovered a “promising” gas deposit in one of those areas. Ankara opposes what it calls a “unilateral” gas search by the ethnically-divided island’s Greek Cypriot-run government, insisting that it flouts the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to natural resources.