Italy, Russia energy companies firm up partnerships

Russian energy company Rosneft already a player in Eni's flagship project in Egypt.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   May 17, 2017 at 8:30 AM
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May 17 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said Wednesday it signed an agreement with a Russian energy company to explore opportunities, including in Egyptian gas.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi met in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi with his counterpart at Russian energy company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The meeting consolidated previous agreements for the joint development of exploration activities in the Russian Barents Sea and Black Sea, and will underpin further opportunities between the two groups, including the Zohr project," the Italian company explained in a statement.

Eni made its initial gas discovery in the Zohr field in Egypt two years ago and quickly described it as the largest ever made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world. Egypt aims to become a regional hub for gas and liquefied natural gas, though availability at the domestic sector could complicate growth.

In December, the Italian company sold off a 30 percent stake in the Egyptian basin to Rosneft in an agreement valued at about $1.6 billion.

Wednesday's agreement could add to Russia's regional leverage given Egypt's potential for liquefied natural gas and with opportunities in the Black Sea. Russia meets about 30 percent of Italy's gas needs and is working to expand its shipment networks in Europe.

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