Greece has concluded talks with a consortium led by France's Total for deepsea gas exploration in one block in western Greece, its energy minister, Giorgos Stathakis, said on Feb. 1, taking the two sides closer to signing a deal.

In October, Greece named a consortium of France's Total, Italy's Edison, and its biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum as the preferred bidder for the offshore gas drilling block in the Ionian Sea.

The Total-led consortium has bid for one block in the Ionian. Hellenic Petroleum has bid independently for two other blocks in the same region.

Hellenic Petroleum in a venture with Edison, and Energean Oil, Greece's only oil producer, is already searching for oil in three onshore and offshore blocks in western Greece.