MILAN, Italy, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Italian energy company Eni said it was building on a legacy position in Mediterranean waters with two new shallow-water concessions offshore Egypt.
Eni takes a position alongside British energy company BP and French company Total in the shallow-water Karawan and North Leil blocks off the Egyptian coast.
Eni offered no estimate of the reserve potential in the two exploration areas, which combine for 1,280 square miles. The Italian company will serve as the operator of the two basins.
"These two new concession agreements follow the recent award of the deep water Karawan and North Leil blocks, strengthening Eni's presence in Egypt, a country of historic and strategic importance," the Italian company noted.
Eni announced a discovery of gas in a deepwater prospect off the Egyptian coast in August. With an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in place, it's the largest discovery made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world.
Executives with the Italian company met with Cypriot officials last month, saying Cyprus could play a role in the near future in a scenario involving the recent gas discovery made off the coast of Egypt. The company said connecting regional markets to Egypt could help ensure European energy demands are met without interruption.
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.
For Egypt, the International Monetary Fund said Eni's discovery off the Egyptian coast in August should help ensure positive economic growth.