La strategia Upstream: modello esplorativo di Eni

Upstream: our exploration model

Efficient exploration allows us to remain competitive even in the most challenging energy scenarios while continuing to reduce emissions.

A new organisation to create value sustainably

We have set up the Natural Resources Business Groups, one of the two Business Groups that make up our organisational structure, to enhance the value of our upstream Oil & Gas portfolio sustainably. The new division will also manage energy efficiency activities, CO₂ capture and storage projects and Forestry REDD+ projects, contributing to the full decarbonization of all our products by 2050.

Efficient exploration for faster time to market

Our upstream operation includes all of the activities upstream of the natural gas and oil production chain, prior to the transportation and commercialisation stages, including obtaining exploitation rights, exploration, development and production. Our operating model incorporates all of these stages, to increase speed and productivity, enabling us to react more quickly to energy demands and market trends. Our strengths remain our proprietary technologies and the expertise of our people, which enable us to identify new resources with great speed and precision. 

Thanks to the activities carried out in 2022, the resource portfolio increased by approximately 750 million boe, continuing to achieve excellent exploration performance.

Several discoveries were made in the areas close to existing production facilities and infrastructure, in line with the fast-track development model, particularly in Algeria, Egypt and Abu Dhabi. Important discoveries were made with the delineation wells of the Ndungu oil discoveries offshore Angola and the Baleine wells in offshore Côte d'Ivoire, allowing for a significant increase in the volume of hydrocarbons in place in both cases. The XF-002 gas discoveries in the United Arab Emirates and Cronos, offshore Cyprus, also contributed to the year's results. The recent exploration success of Zeus, offshore Cyprus, which is still under evaluation, and Nargis in Egypt in January 2023, confirmed the mineral potential of the eastern Mediterranean area.

Carbon neutrality will be achieved by leveraging a combination of emission offsetting from Improved Cookstoves distribution projects (Sustainable Development) and forest conservation (REDD+). The Baleine discovery confirms Eni’s commitment to generating value, whilst reducing the carbon footprint and focusing on improving time-to-market exploration discoveries.

The fast-track development of several fields in Algeria was completed at the end of 2022, resulting in production start-up: two gas fields in the new Berkine South contract, only six months from the closing, the HDLE/HDLS project in the Zemlet el Arbi concession in the Berkine North basin, just six months after discovery in March 2022.

In November, the first cargo of LNG produced in the Coral gas field in the ultra-deep waters of the Rovuma basin in Mozambique left the Coral Sul Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) plant. The project represents a significant milestone in the global LNG business, achieved by leveraging our ability to deliver on time and on budget despite the effects of the pandemic, and positions Mozambique as a significant new LNG hub.

In December, Vår Energi announced a new gas discovery in the Barents Sea, in Norway, with estimated resources between 9-21 bln cubic metres/year (57-132 mln barrels of oil equivalent). Furthermore, in January 2023, Vår Energi was awarded 12 new exploration licences, 5 of which are operated, in the “Awards in Predefined Areas 2022” (APA) tender, by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy of Norway.

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Circularity and upstream decarbonization

A platform from the Gulf of Mexico can be recovered and reused in Congo. A ship can be completely redeveloped in Singapore and become the technological centre of a large offshore hub anchored to the ocean floor in Angola. The circular economy and decarbonization are also core values for upstream: every asset is considered to be precious and every resource something to nurture, with a view to reducing climate-changing emissions.

Taking 2014 as the benchmark, the overall reduction in fugitive emissions from methane comes to 92%, confirming the early achievement of the 80% reduction target we had set for 2025. As well as not being released into the environment this natural gas was sold, contributing to the company's cash flow: it’s a perfect example of the economic value of circularity and decarbonization. 

From field to final production

Everything we do from the exploration phases onwards is in preparation for the final production stage, including studies by our Research Centres using the analytical capabilities of the HPC5 to obtain preview information relating to the deposit and immediately start planning the development stage. The field is then gradually brought into production so that the new infrastructures can be incorporated and production capacity consequently increased. Exploring and extracting from the site quickly allows us to provide a rapid response to the demand for energy. With this in mind, the Dual Exploration Model, which is the sale of minority shares in deposits that are already at the exploration stage, allows us to generate cash in advance and therefore obtain funds to be reinvested, making the process even more efficient.

In more technical terms, the success of our development model is based on:

  • the parallelisation of phases (appraisal, pre-development, engineering)
  • a modular approach with accelerated start-up in early production and subsequent ramp-up
  • the minimisation of financial exposure
  • insourcing the critical project phases (detailed engineering, production supervision, commissioning/hook-up) where our expertise can be applied.

Development operations

The field must be put into production in order to retrieve the hydrocarbons, drilling an optimal number of production wells and installing the necessary equipment to remove any unwanted components (such as solid particles, water, salts, etc.) from the gas and oil and separate the liquid phase of the oil from the gas phase. Development operations at sea are more complex, with production wells being drilled from various kinds of fixed platforms (steel, concrete, semi-submersible or even anchored with cables) that are often extremely large and channelled in such a way as to drain the largest possible area from a single station.

Production operations

Production operations, whereby the hydrocarbons are extracted from the deposit, processed at the plants and sent to the market by pipeline or ship, follow the development stage. The productive life of a deposit can last for decades, during which it will be continuously monitored and work carried out within the wells to optimise production, sometimes including advanced recovery projects that involve injecting gas or water to increase the quantity of hydrocarbons that can be retrieved.