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Eni sees larger European gas role

Italian energy company says its Mediterranean assets can help meet European demands.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Eni sees larger European gas role
Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi hosted European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete to discuss European natural gas needs. Photo courtesy of Eni.

ROME, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A natural gas discovery off the Egyptian coast and recent cooperation with Cyprus could translate to European energy security, Italian energy company Eni said.

Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi hosted European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action Miguel Arias Canete in Rome to discuss regional energy issues.

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Descalzi said connecting regional markets and ensuring future supplies could help ensure European energy demands are met without interruption.

"Eni's super giant gas discovery offshore Egypt, along with other important discoveries made in recent years offshore Israel and Cyprus, will allow the East Mediterranean gas hub to contribute significantly to European energy security," the company said in a statement on the meeting.

Descalzi met last week with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, saying Cyprus could play a role in the near future in a scenario involving the recent gas discovery made off the coast of Egypt.

Eni in August announced the discovery of gas in the deepwater Zohr prospect off the Egyptian coast. With an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place, it's the largest ever made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world.

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Cyprus, meanwhile, is central to Israel's strategic planning in a region long dependent on imported energy because of its proximity to regional counterparts and the benefit of pooling export programs.

European countries are looking to diversify an energy sector that relies heavily on Russia for natural gas. The European economy gets about a quarter of its gas needs met by Russia, though most of that gas runs through a Soviet-era pipeline system in Ukraine, where conflict and economic disputes with the Kremlin creates risks to energy security.

Russian energy company Gazprom this week said development of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline was on hold because of installation delays. South Stream, a longer version of the Russian pipeline through Turkey, was envisioned as a European network before the Kremlin pulled it off the table in late 2014.

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