Eni CEO Cautiously Optimistic about Zubair Field

MILAN - Eni SpA's chief executive says he is cautiously optimistic about the further development of the Zubair oil field in Iraq, given how it is taking longer than expected.

"We entered the Zubair project with a lot of enthusiasm and the conviction that, in time, the situation of the country would have normalized. But things are going more slowly than expected and we ask ourselves if the effort...that we are putting into it is adequately remunerated," Paolo Scaroni is quoted as saying in an interview published Monday in Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

"We have spoken of the problem, which is not just ours, to the Baghdad authorities and opened a dialogue from which we have perceived some positive signals and for which we are cautiously optimistic."

Since winning a 20-year service contract in 2009, Eni is leading a group to develop the field, which is producing about 300,000 barrels per day and is expected to increase it to 1.125 million barrels in 2016.

In Venezuela, where production at the Jumin 5 field in the Orinoco region has begun, Mr. Scaroni says Eni will build a plant next year to lighten the extracted crude in order to make it easier to sell.

"Relations are good and I don't see any reason for them to change," he says, in reference to the likely political developments in the country following the death of the country's leader Hugo Chavez.



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