Oil and gas giants Total and Eni have announced a joint bid to explore offshore oil and gas opportunities in block 7 offshore Cyprus, despite warnings from Turkey over claims to the area.

The Cypriot energy ministry said in a statement: “An application was received on November 26, as part of the procedure for a Hydrocarbon Exploration Licence for block 7, by Total/Eni

“In the coming days, the application will be examined by the advisory committee, which will prepare an introductory report for the Minister for Energy. Subsequently, the minister will present a proposal to the Council of Ministers, where the relevant decisions will be taken.”

Back in October, the Cypriot Government invited Total, Eni and ExxonMobil to bid for the unclaimed block situated within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In response, the Turkish Government urged companies “to act with common sense and to duly consider the realities on the ground”.

According to Turkey, block 7 is disputed as it “remains within the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean”. The country vowed to take all necessary measures to ensure its rights to the block are protected by forbidding exploration activities.

The decision by Cyprus was made after Eni, operator of block 6 with a 50% interest, found a major discovery. Total owns the remaining 50% of block 6.

Earlier in November, ExxonMobil began exploration tests near the island despite warnings from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that foreign companies should not “overstep the mark” by drilling in disputed waters. ExxonMobil received affirmation from the Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis that the government will support exploratory activities in the EEZ.

US oil and gas company Noble Energy first discovered natural gas offshore Cyprus in 2011. A nearby discovery in Egypt’s Zohr field in 2015 has indicated that Cypriot waters could have the same prospects.