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Eni expands Middle East presence with Oman, Bahrain, UAE accords

By
Renzo Pipoli
Italy's Eni will expand its Middle East presence with new explorations in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. One of the areas it will explore in Oman will be in partnership with BP, near the Khazzan tight gas field shown in the image. Photo courtesy of BP.
Italy's Eni will expand its Middle East presence with new explorations in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. One of the areas it will explore in Oman will be in partnership with BP, near the Khazzan tight gas field shown in the image. Photo courtesy of BP.

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Eni said Monday it reached accords for exploration in two areas of Oman, one of them in partnership with BP, just one day after it announced new exploration accords in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

In one accord, Eni and the Oman government agreed to start explorations along with the country's state oil company in block 47, an area covering some 5,300 square miles awarded to Oman Oil Co. and Eni in a 2017 bidding.

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In the other accord, Eni agreed with Oman officials and BP to set up "the principles for the acquisition of the exploration and production rights of block 77 onshore," an area of some 1,900 square miles located 19 miles east of the BP-operated Khazzan Field.

BP started operations in the tight gas Khazzan field in September 2017, extracting 1 billion cubic feet per day in the first phase of the project, with plans to expand production by 50 percent in a second phase. The Khazzan field belongs to a separate area known as block 61.

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"Eni and BP hold 50 percent each (of block 77) with Eni acting as operator during the exploration phase," Eni said. Following the signature, the exploration and production sharing agreement "will follow shortly," it added.

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"This would represent a further deepening of BP's important position in Oman, building on our successful delivery of the major Khazzan project in 2017 and its second phase of development that is currently under construction," said Bernard Looney, the BP chief executive for the upstream, according to a press release.

Eni is already a partner of the Oman Oil Company for offshore explorations offshore Oman in an area known as block 52 with 56,000 square miles. Eni has a 55 percent stake, Qatar Petroleum has 30 percent and Oman has the remainder.

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Eni said in a separate statement Sunday it signed with Bahrain an accord to explore a 1,740-square-mile, shallow-water area known as Block 1, still largely unexplored.

"Entering in Bahrain will enable our company to expand its presence in a key region of the Middle East, in line with our strategy aimed at diversifying our exploration portfolio across basins with liquid hydrocarbon potential while keeping high quality stakes throughout the exploration phase," company CEO Claudio Descalzi said.

Eni also said Sunday, in another statement, that it was awarded onshore areas A,B and C in the United Arab Emirates.

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Areas A and C cover about 1,000 square miles and will see Eni act as operator with a 75 percent state with Sharjah National Oil, or SNOC, with the rest. Concession Area B covers 164 square miles, with Eni and SNOC holding equal interests.

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"These agreements mark for Eni another major step towards an organic growth in the UAE. Today's awards are a further confirmation of our willingness to root our presence in the Middle East by creating long-term strategic partnerships," Descalzi said.

Eni's presence in the Middle East has grown significantly in the last year, with the beginning of the exploration activities in Oman and the signature of major offshore concession agreements with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Eni said.

In the Middle East, Eni is also present in Lebanon and Iraq.

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