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Italian oil and gas major Eni SpA (E - Analyst Report) has teamed up with Congo state-owned company Societe Nationale des Petroles du Congo (SNPC) to explore the oil and gas potential of the Ngolo block in the Cuvette Basin in Congo. The block is situated about 350 kilometers north east to the capital Brazzaville and spans 16 thousand square kilometers.

SNPC was awarded the Ngolo exploration license in Jul 2012, by the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Hydrocarbons. Eni Congo, a unit of Eni will operate the block in a joint venture with SNPC.

Exploration is scheduled to begin in the next few months and will continue for over a decade, targeting the Mesozoic and Paleozoic sedimentary geological sequences.

Both the parties have extensive operational experience and have successfully developed projects onshore and offshore Congo. The companies will contribute greatly to the exploration of the Ngolo block by using advanced prospecting techniques comprising remote sensing and geophysical surveys.

Eni’s early access to the newest exploration frontier in Africa, the Cuvette Basin, which remains largely unexplored, will assist the company to strengthen its position for future growth. The joint venture will also deepen the partnership of both the companies as well as validate their roles as key players in the research and appraisal of the new hydrocarbon potential of the region.

Eni’s presence in Republic of Congo dates back to 1968. Currently, it has an equity production of 110,000 barrels of oil per day in the country and participates in exploration and production projects in Angola, Congo, Ghana, Gabon, Mozambique, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo, Kenya and Liberia.

Eni carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) stocks – China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP - Analyst Report), SM Energy Company (SM - Analyst Report) and Range Resources Corp. (RRC - Analyst Report) – are good buying options for the short term.

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