Italy’s Eni and Algerian state-owned oil company Sonatrach have made a significant oil and gas discovery in the Zemlet el Arbi concession, following the drilling of the HDLE-1 well.

The HDLE-1 encountered light oil in the Triassic sandstones of the Tagi Formation. This confirmed 26m of net pay, with ‘excellent petrophysical characteristics’.

The well delivered 7,000 barrels of oil per day, and five million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd) of associated gas during the production test.

As per the preliminary estimates, the discovery holds approximately 140 million barrels of oil in place.

The HDLE-1 well marks the first in the new exploration campaign, which will see the drilling of five wells in the Berkine North basin.

In a press statement, Eni said: “The discovery will be quickly appraised with the drilling of a second well, HDLE-2, in April 2022 to confirm the additional potential of the structure extending in the adjacent Sif Fatima 2 concession, operated by an ENI-Sonatrach JV.”

The two partners are also planning to undertake studies to accelerate the new discovery’s production phase, with plans to start production in Q3 2022.

The Italian firm said in a statement: “With this discovery, Eni and Sonatrach continue to successfully pursue their near field and infrastructure-led exploration strategy, allowing a rapid valorisation of these new resources.”

Located in the Berkine North basin in the Algerian desert, the Zemlet el Arbi concession is operated by a joint venture between Sonatrach (51%) and Eni (49%).

Earlier this year, Sonatrach said it plans to invest $40bn over a five-year period in gas exploration and extraction, and oil exploration, production, and refinement.