LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) - Energy majors BP and Eni on Thursday announced a significant natural gas discovery off the Egyptian coast.
The discovery is in the Baltim southwest exploration prospect in the East Nile Delta.
It is 10 km north of the Nooros gas field which was discovered in July last year and has a production rate of 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the companies said.
Italy's Eni, through its subsidiary IEOC, holds a 50 percent stake in the licence of Baltim South and BP holds the other 50 percent.
The new discovery "further confirms the significant potential of the so called Great Nooros Area, which is now estimated to hold 70-80 billion cubic metres of gas in place," Eni said in a statement.
BP said that appraisal activities will be required to understand its full resource potential.
"Our plan is to utilise existing infrastructure which will accelerate the development of the discovery, and expedite early production start-up," said Hesham Mekawi, regional president of BP North Africa.
Once an energy exporter, Egypt has turned into a net importer because of declining oil and gas production and increasing consumption.
It is trying to speed up production at recent discoveries to fill its energy gap as soon as possible.
Egypt currently has 12 natural gas field development projects under way worth a total of $33 billion.
The three largest projects, which include the mammoth Mediterranean gas field Zohr discovered by Eni last year, are expected to collectively bring 4.6 billion cubic feet of gas per day online by the start of 2019. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, Oleg Vukmanovic and the Bengaluru newsroom; writing by Nina Chestney; editing by Jason Neely)