ExxonMobil has finally confirmed its entrance to the Area 4 block off Mozambique after a $2.8 billion farm-in deal with Italy's Eni.
The US supermajor has, as expected, taken a 25% stake in the gas-rich offshore block.
The deal will see the Italian major - which has a 50% interest in Area 4 through its 71.4% stake in Eni East Africa, which in turn holds a 70% slice of the tract - remain as operator of all upstream operations and continue to lead the Coral floating liquefied natural gas project.
However, Texas-based ExxonMobil will lead the construction and operation of natural gas liquefaction facilities onshore.
Eni set to seal farm-out of major stake in Area 4
"This operating model will enable the use of best practices and skills within Eni and ExxonMobil with each company focusing on distinct and clearly defined scopes while preserving the benefits of a fully integrated project," Eni said on Thursday.
Upstream had previously been told that ExxonMobil would likely operate the Mamba subsea-to-shore liquefied natural gas project, while Eni would operate the Coral floating LNG development.
The farm-in leaves Eni East Africa held 35.7% by each of ExxonMobil and Eni and 28.6% by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). The remaining stakeholders in Area 4 are Portugal's Galp Energia, South Korea's Kogas and state player ENH, each on 10%.
ExxonMobil chief executive Darren Woods said: “This strategic investment will enable ExxonMobil’s LNG leadership and experience to support development of Mozambique’s abundant natural gas resources.
Eni counterpart Claudio Descalzi added: "This deal represents material evidence of our exploration strategy based on the early monetisation of our exploration discoveries, as a part of our 'dual-exploration' model.
ExxonMobil set to move in at Mamba gas field
"Through this strategy, Eni has been able to cash in more than $9 billion in the last four years. Moreover, the agreement confirms the world class quality, production potential, technical and financial robustness of the entire project."
Area 4 contains an estimated 85 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
All of Coral’s existing partners — aside from CNPC — have sanctioned the Coral FLNG scheme, with a final investment decision due shortly.
Descalzi said last week a final investment decision for the Mamba LNG project — likely to involve two, 5 million tonnes per annum trains — will emerge in mid-2018 at the earliest.