UPDATE 2-Italian energy group Eni to review its Middle East projects

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DUBAI, March 24 (Reuters) - Italian energy group Eni is reviewing its projects in the Middle East because of the coronavirus pandemic and oil market conditions, a senior company official said on Tuesday.

Eni’s portfolio in the Middle East includes upstream and downstream projects in Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The projects to be scrutinised include those in partnership with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC).

“We are at the moment reviewing all our ongoing projects for this year, 2020, and 2021,” Fuad Krekshi, Eni’s regional executive vice president, told a media conference call. “We expect to come out with the revised plan sometime in the next month.”

“It’s not just coronavirus here,” he added. “You are talking about a market with a sudden drop of prices by 50 percent ... so we are looking at both sides, the price impact and the coronavirus.”

Global oil prices have crashed due to a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia following the collapse of a deal to curb output by more than 20 oil-producing countries.

Asked if the current environment would have an impact on the development of the Ghasha sour gas field in Abu Dhabi, Krekshi said there would be a joint review with ADNOC.

Eni was awarded a 25% stake in the concession, operated by ADNOC, in 2018. Germany’s Wintershall, a subsidiary of chemicals company BASF, has 10% while Austria’s OMV has 5%.

The project is located on the northwestern shore of Abu Dhabi and, once operational, is estimated to have a daily production capacity of approximately one billion cubic feet (bcf) of sour gas.

He said it was too early to make judgments, but that officials were reviewing all options.

Krekshi said ENI would also postpone the start-up of new projects.

“Where we haven’t started yet, the operations will tend to be deferred until the situation clears.” (Reporting by Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Pravin Char)