On Sunday, Italian energy giant ENI discovered one of the largest known gas field in the Mediterranean off the Egyptian coast, predicting the find could help meet Egypt’s gas needs for decades to come.
According to geophysical data, the deep-water deposit in the “Zohr” Prospect is located at a depth of 1.450 meters and it could hold a potential of 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, covering an area of about 100 square kilometers. ENI, which wholly owns the license for Shorouk, said that the outstanding result validates its strategy of exploring mature areas. Thus, the company has planned to fast track development of the site, using existing infrastructure, arguing that yet more gas might be uncovered in future drilling.
Facing this important find, ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday to discuss the exploration success. “This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt in which we have been welcomed for over 60 years”, he said. “This exploration success acquires an even greater value as it was made in Egypt which is strategic for ENI, and where important synergies with the existing infrastructures can be exploited allowing us a fast production startup” .
Indeed, as the existing fields of oil and gas becoming depleted, companies are seeking for new deposits. In particular, Egypt’s energy demand is rising as the Arab world’s largest population grows, making the country more reliant on imports provided by Persian Gulf states. Thus, this discover, most likely, will fulfill Egyptian domestic needs first, before any export plans are discussed and it will also put a damper on Israeli plans to export gas to Egypt.
ENI, controlled by the Italian state, is the biggest foreign oil and gas producer in Africa. In June, it signed an energy exploration deal with Egypt worth $2 billion, which allows to explore in Sinai, the Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean and areas in the Nile Delta.
Egypt is the first foreign country ENI expanded into from its home base in Italy in 1954. The Rome-based company already produces gas in Egypt and is a partner in a venture operating a gas liquefaction terminal at Damietta on the Mediterranean coast.
Coupled with other large gas discoveries in the Mediterranean in recent years, ENI is expecting to have a significant impact on the region’s economy with hopes of garnering Europe a variety of new supply options, allowing Europe to decrease dependence on Russia for gas imports.