Total expects approval from the Greek parliament by year-end to explore for oil offshore western Greece, the French company’s CEO told a Greek newspaper.

Greece and a consortium made up of Total, Italy’s Edison and Hellenic Petroleum have signed a lease agreement to search for oil and gas in the Ionian Sea.

“We expect ratification of the agreement by Greece’s parliament by the end of the year to start work,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne told Ta New newspaper.

Total and other French business leaders will be traveling with French President Emmanuel Macron to Athens on Sept. 7 for a two-day trip.

Oil and gas explorers usually need seismic surveys to determine the location and size of possible oil and gas reserves before they start exploratory drilling.

Encouraged by major gas discoveries offshore Egypt and Israel, Total has shown great interest in Mediterranean blocks and is currently drilling for oil offshore Cyprus.

In a consortium with ExxonMobil and Hellenic Petroleum, Total has also expressed interest in exploration at two sites off the island of Crete, prompting Greece to launch a tender.

The Law of the Sea leaves it up to governments to decide how to raise the special fees under Article 82, with the option of passing on the costs to companies.