Italian energy giant makes massive gas discovery in Egypt

Italian energy company Eni discovered massive gas field in Egypt’s coastline

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer of Eni

Italian energy group Eni said the largest known gas field in the Mediterranean was discovered on Sunday off the Egyptian coast.

Eni predicted the newly found field could help meet Egypt's gas needs for decades to come.

"Zohr" field could hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, covering an area of about 100 square kilometres (60 square miles)” the Italian energy giant said in a statement.

Eni signed an energy exploration deal with Egypt worth $2 billion last June, allowing the Italian giant to explore in Sinai, the Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean and areas in the Nile Delta.

In July, Egypt raised the prices it pays Eni for the natural gas it produces.

"This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt," said Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, who met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi on Saturday to discuss the find.

Eni’s statement also added that the discovery was located at a depth of 1,450 metres (4,757 ft) and Eni plans fast track development of the site, using existing infrastructure.

The discovery follows other significant gas findings in the Mediterranean in recent years, including off neighbouring Israel. Eni discovered huge gas field offshore Mozambique In 2011, with an estimated 85 trillion cubic feet of gas in place.

"Zohr is the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea and could become one of the world's largest natural-gas finds," said the statement, adding that the company has full concession rights to the area. Eni said yet more gas might be uncovered in future drilling around Zohr.

A major impact on the region's economy is expected following Zohr’s discovery, offering potential gas imports to Europe, lessening its dependence on Russian gas imports.

Fuel shortages have often sparked unrest in Egypt in recent years, the new field reserve will allow the Egyptian government to dodge such crises in the future.

Eni is the biggest foreign gas and oil producer in Egypt and the whole Africa, and its 30 percent is controlled by the Italian state. It has also progressed significant operations in war-torn Libya in spite of the unrest.

Daily output of Eni in Egypt roughly translated to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent, as it has been operating for more than 60 years in the country.

Egypt, a long producer of natural gas, had became a net energy importer over the last few years. And so, fuel shortages haves always directly resonated in the country’s internal affairs and stability.

Egypt's state-owned gas company EGAS has increasingly rationed gas supplies to much of the domestic industry, which has crippled production and hampered the economic recovery at times under former army general Sisi’s rule.

As a former Defense minister, Sisi rose to power after deposing Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in June 2013 and staging a brutal crackdown on opposition in which hundreds were unlawfully detained and given harsh politicised sentences.

TRTWorld and agencies