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Eni Buys 40% Stake in Sasol Field Off South Africa’s East Coast

Eni SpA, the biggest Italian oil company, bought 40 percent of a license held by Sasol Ltd. off the east coast of South Africa to explore for hydrocarbons.

The agreement is for exploration permit 236, south of Mozambique, the country where Eni and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. discovered more than 100 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to statements by the Italian company and Sasol.

Sasol will retain a 60 percent stake in the three-year lease granted November 2013, it said. The area is located in the Durban and Zululand basins, offshore Kwazulu-Natal province.

“Accelerated exploration activity, as represented by ER236, will have many positive benefits for South Africa and the broader region, in terms of energy security and increasing levels of international investment,” Sasol CEO David Constable said in the statement. The deal is subject to state approval.

Companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Anadarko and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have begun prospecting in South Africa’s waters in recent years as new technology increases their ability to find and pump oil from deep beneath the seabed.

Total SA expects to drill offshore in mid-2014, Anastasia Zhivulina said June 6. The company has hired the Eirik Raude, a harsh-environment semi-submersible drilling rig.

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