Kiev is planning to sign a production- sharing agreement (PSA) for gas exploration with a group of companies led by the U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil and the Royal Dutch Shell in autumn, Ukrainian senior official said here Thursday, according to Xinhua.

"We are working and there is progress. We expect to sign the PSA by the mid-fall,"the Adviser to the country's Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Volodymyr Ignashchenko told journalists.

Kiev picked the consortium, which also includes Romania's Petrom Company and Ukraine's state-run Nadra firm, to explore the Skifska gas field in the Ukrainian part of the Black Sea in August, 2012.

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The Skifska gas field with estimated reserves of 250 million cubic meters of gas is expected to produce at least 3 billion cubic meters annually.

The project, whose total cost has been estimated by the government at 10 billion U.S. dollars, may help Ukraine reduce its heavy dependence on gas imports from Russia, which cost around 400 dollars per 1,000 meters in the third quarter of 2013.