LIBREVILLE, Gabon, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said Monday it updated the government of Gabon on emerging commercial prospects of offshore natural gas reserves.
The company in July announced it made a natural gas discovery off the coast of Gabon, with an initial potential reserve estimate of 500 million barrels of oil equivalent. Combined with three other West African discoveries, Eni estimates the offshore region may hold as much as 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi met in the nation's capital with Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba to discuss the commercial prospects offshore.
An appraisal campaign offshore aims to move gas reserves into production "shortly," the Italian energy company said.
"Preliminary studies to determine the commercial development of the gas in both the domestic and export markets are underway," the company said in a statement.
Reserves off the coast of Gabon are similar to those in Brazil in that they're located beneath a thick layer of submarine salt. Gabon's geological similarities to Brazil raised hopes for oil production among energy explorers, but so far the region has turned up mostly natural gas.