QatarEnergy has selected Italy’s Eni as a new partner for the first phase of the North Field liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion project.

The first phase of the expansion project, called North Field East (NFE), is the largest and invovles an investment of $28.75bn.

This phase is expected to increase Qatar’s LNG production capacity to 110 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) from the current 77Mtpa.

As per the partnership agreement, QatarEnergy and Eni agreed to form a joint venture (JV) for the NFE project.

The Qatari state-owned company will have a 75% stake in the JV while the remaining 25% stake will be held by Eni.

This marks the second partnership deal signed by QatarEnergy for the expansion project. The Qatari firm recently signed a partnership deal with TotalEnergies for the first phase.

Planned to start production by the end of 2025, the NFE project will have four LNG trains with a combined capacity of 32Mtpa.

It will feature advanced technologies to reduce the overall CO₂ footprint, including carbon capture and sequestration.

The North Field LNG expansion project, which will comprise a total of six trains, is expected to position Qatar as the world’s top LNG exporter.

The second phase of the North Field expansion project, known as the North Field South project, will increase Qatar’s liquefaction capacity to 126Mtpa.

Eni CEO Descalzi said: “This agreement is a significant milestone for Eni and fits our objective to diversify into cleaner and more reliable energy sources in line with our decarbonisation strategy.”

The deal also marks the Italian firm’s entry into Qatar’s upstream sector.

Qatar Minister of State for Energy Affairs and QatarEnergy president and CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said: This agreement will strengthen our mutual cooperation for decades to come. It is an important addition to a series of partnerships with Eni, which include upstream exploration projects in a number of locations around the world, as QatarEnergy expands its international footprint.”

In a separate announcement, Qatar has advanced talks with China’s national oil majors for the potential investment by the latter in the North Field East expansion project, and to buy fuel under long-term contracts, reported Reuters, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

Sinopec and CNPC are considering investing a 5% stake each in two separate export trains of the North Field expansion project, according to the three sources.