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Eni deal a testament to Abu Dhabi's attraction

Italian energy company becomes the first of the majors to wade into the Emirati offshore energy sector

By Daniel J. Graeber
Eni deal a testament to Abu Dhabi's attraction
ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi (seated left) signs agreement to come the first of the majors to get access to Emirati reserves offshore. Photo courtesy of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

March 12 (UPI) -- In what's nearly a $1 billion commitment, Italian energy company Eni said it made its Emirati debut in an agreement with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Eni signed agreements to acquire minority shares in the Lower Zakum, Umm Shaif and Nasr offshore fields from state-run ADNOC for a total fee of $875 million.

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"The stakes in the two concessions give access to giant fields with huge potential and Eni is willing to contribute its best technology to maximize the future production," Eni's CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.

The Italian company said the move was a strategic one that gave it access to some of the largest pools of hydrocarbons in the world. It's the first time that Eni gets rights to Abu Dhabi's oil and natural gas sector.

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Combined, the fields in question have a target rate of production of 910,000 barrels of oil per day. Ahmed al-Jaber, ADNOC's CEO, said the agreement is a testament to the strength of the offshore sector in the United Arab Emirates.

The deal is ADNOC's first with one of the energy majors. Tom Quinn, a regional analyst for consultant firm Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement emailed late Sunday to UPI that ENI can balance a North African focus with its deeper push into the Middle East offshore segment.

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"This is the first award by ADNOC to a major, and shows it is looking to find a balance in its strategic partners between companies from major buyers, such as Japan and India, and international oil companies with technology and project delivery expertise," he said.

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The deal with Eni comes less than a month after Japanese energy company INPEX was awarded a 10 percent stake in the Lower Zakum play off the coast of Abu Dhabi in an agreement that pushes Japanese cooperation with ADNOC into 2058. INPEX said the U.A.E. is emerging as "one of its core business areas."

INPEX agreed to a participation fee of $600 million to energy Lower Zakum.

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