NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Cyprus' foreign minister says the nation's offshore natural gas deposits are enough to warrant the construction of a gas processing plant to export excess supply, regardless of whether Israel decides to be a partner in the project.

Ioannis Kasoulides told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the oil and gas companies which are licensed to search for mineral deposits off the island nation's southern coast will spearhead the infrastructure construction. One field is estimated to hold 5 billion to 8 trillion cubic feet (140 billion to -230 billion cubic meters) of gas.

Kasoulides said potential gas revenue expected by 2019-20 will be shared with breakaway Turkish Cypriots after an agreement to reunify the ethnically split country is reached.

Debt-ridden Cyprus hopes its future gas wealth will help pull it out of its economic crisis.

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