Italian oil and gas major Eni has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Oil and Gas Authority (NOGA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain to pursue petroleum exploration of Block 1, a largely unexplored offshore area in the northern waters of Bahrain.

The block covers an area of over 2,800km², with water depths from 10m up to 70m.

The Minister of Oil of Bahrain and NOGA chair Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi signed the MoU.

Al Khalifa said: “This strategic partnership with Eni is a major step towards utilising the Kingdom’s offshore natural resources. With this signing, we aim to hold various discussions to review all relevant aspects of the technical and commercial terms of the potential exploration and development within a reduced timeframe.”

Al Khalifa also expressed the ‘great importance’ that NOGA attaches to strengthening relations and co-operating with international oil companies, and voiced hopes that the MoU could increase NOGA’s portfolio and present opportunities for more companies in the oil industries.

Descalzi added: “We are delighted with the signing of this agreement and the opportunity to explore the potential of Block 1. This MoU and the exploration in Block 1 will allow Eni to start cooperating and investing in a country that was one of the first in the Gulf to produce oil and which now aims at unveiling its offshore potential.

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“Entering in Bahrain will enable our company to expand its presence in a key region of the Middle East, in line with our strategy aimed at diversifying our exploration portfolio across basins with liquid hydrocarbon potential while keeping high quality stakes throughout the exploration phase.”

Eni recently signed two concession agreements for a 70% stake in exploration areas in Abu Dhabi for 35 years.