(Recasts lead, adds comment, background)
MILAN, April 2 Mozambique has signaled it would
approve a move by Eni to reduce its stake in a natural
gas field off the East African country's coast, the Italian oil
and gas group said on Wednesday.
State-controlled Eni holds a 50 percent stake in the
gas-rich Area 4 field which contains reserves of around 90
trillion cubic feet (tcf). It is part of the wider Rovuma basin
that holds more than 150 tcf - enough to supply Germany,
Britain, France and Italy for 15 years.
Last year, Eni sold a 20 percent stake in the field to
Chinese oil company CNPC in a deal worth around $4
"The possibility of enlarging the shareholder base of Area 4
was favourably received by the (Mozambique) President, as this
would further strengthen the project," Eni said in a statement.
The comments came after a meeting between Eni CEO Paolo
Scaroni and the President of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza.
Sources told Reuters on Monday Eni had hired Bank of America
Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale of a stake of about
15 percent in its Mozambique gas field which could raise up to
Eni, which would need the support of the Mozambique
government for the sale to go ahead, is looking to raise cash to
fund investments in the project area estimated at around $50
billion, while retaining operatorship.
Area 4 is Eni's biggest ever gas discovery and a crucial
part of the group's future development prospects. Following the
completion of 11 wells, Eni is due to drill two additional wells
The project includes plans to build onshore and offshore gas
liquefaction plants aimed at mainly Asian markets and local
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Oleg Vukmanovic and