Italian energy company Eni said Monday it started production at the Perla gas field, the largest field of its kind found off the coast of Venezuela.
“Perla was for Eni one of the most significant start-up projects of 2015, and the today result confirms the validity of our development model that allowed us to reach production in an industry-leading time to market,” Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.
Considered among some of the largest gas discoveries in the world, Eni said the Perla field off the coast of Venezuela holds an estimated 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It’s situated about 30 miles offshore in the Cardon IV reserve area, which is operated in part through a joint venture between Eni and Repsol.
First phase of production at Perla is expected to reach around 450 million cubic feet of natural gas by the end of this year and 1.2 billion cubic feet per day in 2020.
Descalzi met with Venezuelan officials in December, when oil prices were on their way toward the $50 per barrel market, to review the market situation at a time when rival companies were cutting staff and spending on exploration and production.
Venezuela is among the hawks in OPEC pressing for a stable crude oil price of around $100 per barrel. Brent, the global benchmark price, traded just below $60 per barrel in early Monday trading.
The development plan for Perla envisioned by Eni and its Spanish joint venture partner calls for four offshore platforms, an onshore processing facility and more than a dozen production wells.