Italian energy company Eni plans to increase its energy exploration investments in Egypt to $3.5 billion in 2017, the company’s CEO Claudio Descalzi said on Thursday after a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Descalzi briefed the Egyptian president on the latest developments regarding the massive Zohr gas field recently discovered off the Mediterranean coast, saying production is expected to start before the end of the year, a presidency statement read.
Zohr, discovered by Eni in August 2015, is the largest gas field in the Mediterranean with an estimated 850 billion cubic metres of gas.
According to the statement, Descalzi said that Egypt currently tops the 53-country list of Eni’s investment portfolio.
In late December, Eni signed two new concession agreements with the Egyptian government for gas exploration in two Mediterranean fields.
Eni has been operating in Egypt since 1954 through its subsidiary International Egyptian Oil Company (IEOC), with production of about 224,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of 2016.
Egypt’s production of natural gas is currently estimated at around 4.4 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), and is expected to increase by 1.5 bcfd by the end of 2017, according to a statement from the Ministry of Petroleum last week.
In May 2016, the ministry expected production to range between 5.5 and 6 bcfd by the end of 2019.