The Republic of Cyprus may make awards for exploration licenses to companies that participated in its second bid round by the end of this month, said Cypriot Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Neoclis Sylikiotis on 9 October. This would be slightly earlier than expected – he had said last month that the awards would be made in mid-November (MEES, 21 September). Several companies will be selected to enter negotiations for production sharing agreements (PSAs) for the offshore blocks tendered during the licensing round that concluded in May. Of the 12 blocks offered, nine received bids. Block 9 is understood to have been the most bid-upon, with applications for licenses from nine companies/consortia. Block 9 lies to the northeast of Block 12, where Noble Energy discovered 7 tcf (198 bcm) of natural gas in December 2011. The government and Noble are expected to complete negotiations by the end of the year on development of Block 12 (MEES, 5 October).