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Eni Expands

by May 28, 2019Magazine, Oil & Gas

Increasing exploration and production in oil, gas, and renewables

Eni has operations all over the world.

Eni

Italian energy company Eni is quietly making a splash in global energy circles, including Alaska’s North Slope oil patch. The company entered the area and began production in 2011, developing the Nikaitchuq field, which it fully owns and operates.

The field is located offshore in shallow water and is estimated to have recoverable reserves of 220 million barrels of oil and an operating life of thirty years. Eni plans to make the most of it, including using it as a base to reach nearby federal leases.

Eni is using several proprietary technologies, which combine a vertical depth of 4,000 feet with a horizontal reach of 20,000 feet, to extend its reach and reduce its footprint. The facilities were designed and built “using technology aimed at minimizing the impact on the environment,” the company states. That includes zero flaring, pipe-in-pipe technology for hydrocarbon transportation, spill containment devices in all modules, and low emission turbine generators.

The company also partnered with Caelus Natural Resources for a 30 percent interest in the Oooguruk oil field, located just a few miles from Nikaitchuq.

Eni’s was a low-key entry to Alaska—but there was more to come. In 2014, the company gained a new CEO dedicated to re-envisioning the company on principles based on efficiency, integration, and deployment of new technologies with the goal of becoming a global energy leader. It wasn’t long before Eni began to build on its small but strategic holdings in Alaska.

In August 2018, the company acquired 124 exploration leases, a total of about 350,000 acres, in the eastern North Slope region

In January 2019, Eni announced it entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining 70 percent of Oooguruk from Caelus Natural Resources. Eni will also take over operations of the oilfield, located in the Beaufort Sea about two miles offshore. Oooguruk has been in production since 2008 and produces about 10,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd).

The field has twenty-five producing wells and fifteen gas/water injector wells. The facilities are on an artificial gravel island located in water about 10 feet deep with dry production trees.

In a news release, Eni says it plans to drill further production wells at both sites, with the goal of increasing its production to more than 30,000 bopd. From its offshore base on Spy Island, the company is using long-reach angled drilling to explore its federal leases.

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Its recent moves in Alaska are part of an aggressive global growth plan for Eni. Based in San Donato, Italy, Eni is engaged in every aspect of the energy industry. More than just oil and gas, Eni is interested in all forms of energy—petroleum, renewable, and hybrids, as well as techniques that will result in cleaner energy, such as decarbonization. It holds stakes in major Middle East refining businesses and dozens of patents.

Since Claudio Descalzi took over as CEO in 2014, the company has embraced a strategic imperative to improve the business and geographical balance of the company to meet what it calls the “energy transition.”

Since then, Eni has grown its LNG business. It’s entered the Middle East with major business acquisitions and is looking for new and expanded opportunities in Mexico, Indonesia, Venezuela, the United States, and Norway. Eni, which holds multiple patents related to energy production, biofuels, green energy, and more, is committed to a “circular business model,” in which one aspect of its business fuels the next so that all aspects of the corporation are related in some way.

According to an investor fact sheet, exploration and production for oil and gas is its main business, which it conducts in more than forty countries.

“Eni’s strategy is to deliver organic production growth, leveraging on a high-quality portfolio of assets and longstanding relationships with host countries,” the fact sheet states. “Our strategy combines geographical diversification with scale benefits and project synergies.”

In 2019 alone, Eni has begun construction of a photovoltaic plant in Sardinia; cut a deal with RenOils in Italy to boost the collection of used food oil and food for frying; entered the renewable energy market in Australia; and signed an agreement with Coldiretti to cultivate agricultural biogas in Europe. It also announced a major oil find off the coast of Angola.

Eni also has extensive oil and gas holdings in the Middle East, as well as in twenty-one oil and gas fields in the United States, both in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, with net daily production of about 60,000 bopd.

Based in San Donato, Italy, Eni is engaged in every aspect of the energy industry. More than just oil and gas, Eni is interested in all forms of energy—petroleum, renewable, and hybrids, as well as techniques that will result in cleaner energy, such as decarbonization.

Expansion

“We have been able to reshape our businesses quickly, so that today’s Eni is more flexible, faster, more efficient, and more valuable thanks to the large contribution from exploration success and fast-track development of our discovered resources,” Descalzi notes. “Seventy percent of the projects we sanctioned in the last three years come from discoveries of the last five years.”

“We have been able to reshape our businesses quickly, so that today’s Eni is more flexible, faster, more efficient, and more valuable thanks to the large contribution from exploration success and fast-track development of our discovered resources,” Descalzi notes. “Seventy percent of the projects we sanctioned in the last three years come from discoveries of the last five years.”

By leveraging the quality of its portfolio and low-cost development, Descalzi says, Eni has increased production by 16 percent while reducing capital expenditures by 35 percent. And it has done so very quickly because it was fighting against the downturn and because it had the opportunity, he says. Areas such as the Middle East, Asia, and Alaska are prime for further growth. Eni already has significant holdings in Mexico.

“I think that we have to develop, to continue to work, and there are huge important opportunities to grow and rebalance further our portfolio,” Descalzi says. In the United States, the company is planning to increase production and conduct further exploration in Alaska.

“We have to do much more to be able to be more resilient, more balanced,” he says.

Eni

“In a period of very low prices, we have increased our hydrocarbon production and restructured our mid-downstream businesses to achieve positive structural results after years of losses, all while generating substantial cash and reducing costs and investments.”

—Claudio Descalzi, CEO, Eni

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Dual Development Model

In Alaska, as elsewhere, Eni is focusing on two strategic pillars: a dual exploration model and a new accelerated development model. The integration gives Eni more control over every phase of the projects, accelerating time to market.

Over the past three years, Eni has begun production on most products ahead of schedule. The integrated model of exploration and development allowed the company to reach record average production of 1.816 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe) in 2017, while reducing capital expenditures, the company says.

Over the next four years, Eni plans to spend €900 million (more than $1 billion) per year on exploration activities, Descalzi says. Its goal of 3.5 percent annual production growth will be fueled by “starting and ramping up new projects,” which it expects will account for approximately 700,000 boe per day (globally) by 2021. Optimization of current production is expected to add an additional 200,000 boe.

Clean Energy

Another goal for Eni is reducing its carbon footprint by, in part, using renewable energy to power its oil and gas production facilities in what it calls the circular economy. The European Union has a goal to “decarbonise” its energy system to achieve a climate neutral Europe by 2050 to reduce greenhouse emissions by 90 percent.

Eni has a “clear and defined climate strategy” integrated into its business model, Descalzi tells investors.

“That strategy is based on the following drivers: lower CO2 emissions across all our operations; our ‘low carbon’ oil and gas portfolio, which is characterized by conventional projects with low CO2 emission; developing green businesses through our growing commitment to renewables; and our commitment to scientific and technological research,” he says.

Eni is at the forefront of other energy technologies. It has been working with Italian universities to accelerate the development of innovative technologies and integrating them into its business models.

In March Eni activated a wave power energy generation project offshore of Ravenna, Italy. The Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC) is part of the first hybrid power plant able to produce energy from waves and photovoltaics, integrated with a hybrid smart grid, the company announced in a news release. It is capable of a peak power output of a bit more than 50 kilowatts, suitable for powering medium and large offshore assets.

Eni says it plans to use the technology to convert mature offshore platforms into hubs for renewable energy generation.

“Waves are the most underutilized renewable source in the world, with extremely high energy density, high predictability, and low variability, making them a very promising future energy source suitable for the decarbonization of offshore processes,” the release states.

Even the modern bane of plastic is getting a new life with Eni as part of its Waste to Fuel element of its circular economy.

Also in March the company signed an agreement with the Italian National Consortium for the collection, recycling, and recovery of plastic packaging to launch research projects to produce hydrogen from non-recyclable plastic packaging waste.

Eni holds a patent, “Ecofining,” that allows it to produce high-quality biofuels from used cooking and frying oil, animal fat, and other non-edibles, according to the company. Eni is looking at whether a similar process can be used to produce bio-oil and biomethane from the organic portion of unrecyclable plastic waste.

It remains to be seen how Eni’s commitment to a low-carbon future—the company’s goal is to achieve net zero emissions by 2030—translates to its holdings in Alaska. But the company is aiming to become a world-leading global energy provider.

In the meantime, Descalzi tells investors that the company is “doing well” in Alaska and is looking at further investment in the state.

“(Alaska) is an additional target, a main target for us,” he says. “And so, it’s not finished yet.”

Alaska Business Magazine October 2019

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