May 10 (UPI) -- Natural gas production from the largest field ever discovered off the coast of Egypt is on pace for a 9 percent increase in output, Italy's Eni said Thursday.
Eni said the third production unit started at the Zohr field, increasing its installed capacity to 1.2 billion cubic feet per day. The project is producing about 1.1 billion cubic feet per day and the acceleration follows a start date in December.
"The latest achievement reinforces the exceptional development path of Zohr, one of Eni's seven record-breaking projects, which is playing a fundamental role in supporting Egypt's independence from liquefied natural gas imports," the company stated.
Located about 120 miles offshore, the field holds roughly 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent. It's the largest field ever discovered in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Eni, with an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.
Egypt aims to become a regional hub for gas and liquefied natural gas, though availability at the domestic sector could complicate growth. Eni said the startup of Zohr, online less than two years after the initial commercial discovery, would reshape the Egyptian energy sector.
The International Monetary Fund has said the economic potential for Egypt is "immense." Significant investments in the energy sector and major new natural gas discoveries are contributing to its potential.
Eni said that work alongside its co-venture partners, Russian energy company Rosneft and British supermajor BP, and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. targets a peak capacity at Zohr at 2.7 billion cubic feet per day by next year.
Eni is the leading producer in Egypt with equity production of more than 260,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.