Italy’s Eni discovers ‘largest-ever’ gas field in Mediterranean Sea off Egypt

© Amir Cohen
Italian energy giant Eni has announced on its website that it has found a “supergiant” gas field at their Zohr Prospect in the deep waters of Egypt in the Mediterranean, claiming it “could become one of the world’s largest natural-gas finds.”

It added that this is “an important day” for the company, as well as for Italy and Egypt, as it could fuel Italy’s economic development and “will be able to ensure satisfying Egypt’s natural gas demand for decades.” 

“It’s a very important day for Eni and its people. This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt,” Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Eni, said in a statement.

The field is located about 80 miles (129 kilometers) off the Egyptian coast, 1,450 meters below the surface.

According to Eni’s press-release, the discovered gas field, which covers an area of around 100 square kilometers, could contain about “30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas” (849 billion cubic meters of gas or 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent).

Even more oil could be found at the field during the course of further exploration, potentially amounting up to 40 trillion cubic feet (1.1 trillion cubic meters), Claudio Descalzi told Financial Times.

“I think we can discover more,” he said.

In June, Eni struck a $ 2 billion deal with the Egyptian oil ministry allowing it to carry out exploration in Sinai, the Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean and areas in the Nile Delta.

Claudio Descalzi stressed that “Egypt still has great potential” in the energy field."

“Important synergies with the existing [Egyptian] infrastructures can be exploited, allowing us a fast production startup,” he added.

The Leviathan gas field near the Israeli coast had been the largest discovered in the Mediterranean Sea before Eni found the “supergiant” field in Zahr. This new find is one of Eni’s biggest, although it is still smaller than a gas field being developed by the company near the coast of Mozambique.

The final investment decision, which is still to be made, could be taken later this year, while drilling could be initiated in 2016, with peak output reaching about 65-80 million cubic meters per day, the Financial Times reports, citing Claudio Descalzi.

“We will fast track this project and production will begin as soon as possible,” he said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

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The announcement of the discovery came a day after a Cairo meeting between the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, according to the president’s office.

Eni is Egypt’s main oil and gas producer. It has been operating in the country since 1954 through its IEOC subsidiary, with equity production reaching 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.