Tunisia's industry ministry awarded an oil exploration permit to Ukrainian firm YNG Exploration Limited for the Tatouine region, located in the southern part of the country, Agence France-Presse reported.
YNG permit's covers 395 square miles of the Araifa site, and grants the company the right to conduct seismic exploration as well as drill two test wells over a five-year period, according to AFP. The cost of the permit totals $21 million.
The contract was signed by YNG Exploration Limited and Entreprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres (ETAP). YNG will finance the exploration phase of the project. According to AFP, if deposits are found, ETAP will have the option of a 50 percent participation in exploration.
Tunisia has a limited supply of hydrocarbon resources and is studying ways to increase energy production. The exploitation of possible shale gas deposits has been named the most notable option.