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Exclusive: Exxon eyes Egypt's offshore oil and gas - sources

Reuters  |  LONDON/VIENNA 

By Ron Bousso and Ernest Scheyder

LONDON/VIENNA (Reuters) - is considering a foray into offshore and gas, seeking to replicate rivals' success in the country and boost its reserves, officials and industry sources said.

Officials from the world's largest listed producer recently held talks with Egypt's petroleum ministry to discuss investments in and gas production, known as upstream operations, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told

"We have been discussing with them, visiting them. They've visited us... We are exploring all opportunities for having more and further upstreamers in Egypt," Molla said on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting in Vienna.

"I would be happy to have them with us," he said, adding that no decision has been made yet.

declined to comment. The Irving, Texas-based company currently has no upstream operations in Egypt, according to its website.

The company is looking at exploring the eastern Mediterranean offshore basin, according to industry sources.

Italy's Eni this month is set to begin producing gas from the Zohr field in the Mediterranean, among the biggest discoveries of the past decade.

"After Zohr there was a reassessment of the portfolio profitability in Egypt" by Exxon, one source said, adding that was looking for "tier one assets" with significant potential.

is also considering opportunities in the Red Sea, where Cairo is preparing to tender exploration blocks, industry sources briefed on the matter told

in 2016 had reserves of 3.5 billion barrels of and 1.8 trillion cubic metres of gas, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy.


has recently ramped up efforts to attract foreign investment in its sector to boost its struggling economy.

Along with Eni, BP and Royal Dutch Shell also have significant operations in in offshore gas production, which is consumed domestically although Cairo aims to become a gas exporter.

like many rivals has curbed spending to ride out a sharp fall in prices in mid-2014.

With its reserves slipping, CEO Darren Woods, who took over at the beginning of the year, has gone shopping.

Woods has spent or authorised more than $10 billion in investment in the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield, and in offshore Guyana.

In November, and Japan's Inpex Corp signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi National Co (ADNOC) to boost the capacity of the Upper Zakum offshore oilfield, the world's fourth largest.

is also close to signing a deal to explore for and gas off Mauritania, its oil, energy and mines director said on Wednesday.

In 2016, Exxon's stockpile of total proved reserves fell 4 percent to 7.75 billion barrels. In addition, the in its portfolio is in hard-to-reach or expensive places, including Russia and Canada. By comparison, rival Chevron Corp has been able to boost its proved reserves by about 1 percent since 2014 by expanding in the Permian Basin and Kazakhstan. Exxon's production up to the end of the third quarter stood at 3.9 million barrels of equivalent per day, down about 6 percent from the end of 2016.

(Additional reporting by Clara Denina in London; editing by Jason Neely)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 04 2017. 15:58 IST