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Italy Oil Mozambique: Eni makes a push toward the top
MILAN — Tucked away in a building on the outskirts of Milan is the “nirvana room,” so called perhaps because of the good tidings it contains. There, geologists working for the Italian oil company Eni don 3-D glasses to contemplate fluorescent images of underground geological formations and try to divine which might be worth tens of millions of dollars in exploratory drilling.
The mood around Eni has been nirvana-like lately as the company’s explorers have made some lucrative enlightened guesses. Beginning in 2010, Eni and a rival, the Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum, made a series of finds off Mozambique, a country in East Africa, that add up to the largest natural gas discovery of recent years — the equivalent of about 16 billion barrels of oil.
Eni controls the largest share of the Mozambique findings, with 70 percent of an offshore block in the Indian Ocean called Area 4, in what is known as the Rovuma Basin.
Eni’s chief executive, Paolo Scaroni, said the discoveries had come after Eni spent five years studying East Africa, where very little oil and natural gas had been found. When Mozambique made exploration blocks available in 2006, Eni bid and got the one it wanted.