Eni Bags Stake in World's 4th Biggest Refinery
(Bloomberg) -- After months of courting oil officials in Abu Dhabi, Claudio Descalzi got his prize: a stake in the world’s fourth-largest oil processing plant.
The chief executive officer of Rome-based Eni SpA has sunk billions of dollars into three oil and gas production and exploration concessions in Abu Dhabi since March. But on frequent visits to the United Arab Emirates -- at least three since November -- he repeatedly expressed interest in a piece of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s 922,000 barrel-a-day refining business.
He got it on Sunday. Eni agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash for 20 percent of Adnoc Refining and also bought an equivalent share in a new oil trading joint venture. The refinery investment, to be completed in the third quarter, is the first for Eni outside of Italy and Germany, and it boosts the company’s existing 548,000 barrel-a-day refining capacity by 35 percent. Austrian oil and gas producer OMV AG bought a 15 percent stake in the units.
“This deal is really important to increase our margin,” Descalzi told Bloomberg Television. “We have strong downstream in Italy, but that is not enough, so we have to diversify our downstream.”
The acquisition will lower Eni’s refining break-even target margin by 50 percent about $1.50 a barrel. It will also deliver a dividend, starting in 2019, that will be a “double digit-figure,” Descalzi said.
Oil companies, including the world’s biggest exporter Saudi Arabian Oil Co., have been investing in processing assets and chemical plants to secure buyers for their crude and smooth earnings when prices fall. Eni’s latest deal in Abu Dhabi follows a spree of exploration and production permits in Oman, Bahrain and the U.A.E.
In Oman, Eni and BP Plc signed a preliminary agreement to search for oil and gas in Block 77; both will hold a 50 percent stake and Eni will be the operator during the exploration phase. In Bahrain, Eni has an agreement to hunt for oil in Block 1, a large offshore area that’s still largely unexplored. In Abu Dhabi, Eni committed to invest at least $230 million to assess offshore blocks, working in partnership with Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production Pcl. It also won stakes in the Umm Shaif and Nasr oil fields and the Lower Zakum deposit last year. In Sharjah, another U.A.E. emirate, the company secured onshore exploration rights in partnership with government-run Sharjah National Oil Corp.
With assistance from Mahmoud Habboush and Giovanni Prati. To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammed Aly Sergie in Dubai at email@example.com; Manus Cranny in London at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nayla Razzouk at email@example.com Bruce Stanley, Mohammed Aly Sergie.
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