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The Italian energy company Eni has discovered a gas and condensate deposit in the rich Bouri Field off the coast of Libya, the second such discovery of 2015. Both discoveries come as the North African country is engaged in a protracted civil war.
The discovery, announced May 26, was in Area D of the Bouri North exploration prospect, about 85 miles off the coast of western Libya and 12 miles north of the main Bouri Field. Eni reported in a statement that the well was drilled more than 400 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.
During a test of the site, the deposit gave up 1,340 barrels of oil equivalent, the Italian company said. Once it is in full production, it said, the well should deliver an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
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The entire Bouri Offshore Field, discovered in 1975, has 4.5 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves and 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas. It is believed to be the largest oil field in production in the Mediterranean.
Eni said its subsidiary, Eni North Africa BV, has a 100 percent interest in exploring Area D. In all of Libya, ENI now produces more than 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company, the largest energy producer in the North African country, has been operating since 1959 in Libya, which lies due south of Italy across the Mediterranean.
Despite continued fighting between two rival governments, Eni has remained busy in Libya. The discovery announced on May 26 was Eni’s second this year in Bouri Field’s Area D.
Between 2004 and the ouster of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, Italy got nearly 10 percent of its gas from the Greenstream pipeline, which runs from Wafa in inland western Libya north to the Mediterranean at the coastal city of Mellitah, then across the sea to Sicily, where it joins the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline to run up the boot of Italy.
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Libya overall was producing more than 1 million barrels of oil per day before Gadhafi’s fall. Now, though, as fighting continues, OPEC estimates that the country produces an estimated 300,000 barrels per day. The country is beset not only by two rival governments, but also by the ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, which has established a presence in Libya amid the chaos.
Libya’s energy production also has been hampered by strikes at oil and gas facilities, severely limiting the country’s overseas sales. Exports of crude oil have declined from 1.6 million barrels per day to an estimated 500,000 barrels per day today. And in February Eni had to reduce the number of its employees in the country because fighting had closed so many energy fields.
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Nevertheless, Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s CEO, says his company has no plans to abandon Libya. “Our commitment in Libya is very strong,” he told Bloomberg earlier this month. “We worked in the past months to reinforce all our structures onshore.”
In fact, Descalzi stated, he’s optimistic that the fighting eventually will end, or at least abate. “In the medium long term we are confident because we saw a lot of offers from different international entities,” he said, “and we’re willing to find a solution internally so they have started discussions in the last four months. That’s a really good signal.”
By Andy Tully Of Oilprice.com
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Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com