Exxon Mobil Corp said it has acquired more than 1.7 million acres for exploration offshore Egypt, strengthening its portfolio in the eastern Mediterranean.
The acquisition includes acreage in the 1.2 million North Marakia Offshore block, which is located approximately five miles offshore Egypt’s northern coast in the Herodotus basin. The remaining 543,000 acres is in the North East El Amriya Offshore block in the Nile Delta.
ExxonMobil will operate both blocks and hold 100 per cent interest. Operations, including acquisition of seismic data, are scheduled to begin in 2020, the company said.
“These awards strengthen our exploration portfolio in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Mike Cousins, senior vice president of exploration and new ventures at ExxonMobil.
Exxon marked its entry into gas exploration in Egypt by winning awards in one of the country’s largest-ever oil and gas exploration tenders in February.
Egypt Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla had said that the country expects investments of at least $750 million to $800 million in the first stage of exploration in the total of 12 concessions announced in February.
In separate Red Sea concessions announced this week, Egypt awarded one block to Chevron, one to Shell and one jointly to Shell and Mubadala.
These concessions cover a total acreage of 10,000 square kilometres, with a minimum investment of $326 million, according to the country's petroleum ministry.
Italy’s Eni’s discovery of the giant Zohr field in 2015, the largest in the Mediterranean and estimated to hold about 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, has raised interest in exploration in Egypt, triggering new concession awards that have attracted foreign interest.