Eni’s infrastructure-led exploration efforts have led to the discovery of up to an estimated 250 million barrels of oil in place at the Cuica prospect offshore Angola, the company said April 6.

Located near the Armada Olombendo FPSO (East Hub), the Cuica-1 NFW well was drilled on Block 15/06 by the Libongos drillship to a vertical depth of 4,100 m. The Italian energy company said the well hit an 80-m light oil column in Miocene-aged sandstones and described the petrophysical properties as good. Water depth in the area is about 500 m.

“The discovery confirms the exploration potential of the block and Eni’s strong commitment to further unlock the value of the area through effective proprietary technologies and its capability to quickly turn resources into production,” the company said in a news release.

The Italian operator, working in partnership with Sonangol P&P (36.8421%) and SSI Fifteen Ltd. (26.3158%), plans to sidetrack the well updip for optimal positioning as a producer well.

Cuica’s location near the subsea network of the East Hub paves the way toward a fast-track tie-in. Production is expected to start within six months. Data indicate production capacity could be about 10,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Eni.

Eni described Cuica as the second significant oil discovery in the Cabaça Development Area. The exploration win, the company’s first commercial discovery on the block following the post-2020 COVID-19 exploration campaign relaunch and oil price crash, follows the Kalimba, Afoxé, Ndungu, Agidigbo and Agogo discoveries as well as appraisals between 2018 and 2020.

The block is also home to the Eni-operated West Hub, where production began in late 2014.

Angolan authorities recently extended the exploration period for Block 15/06 by three years until November 2023, Eni said.

“Angola plays a key role in the strategy for organic growth of Eni, which has been present in the country since 1980,” Eni said. Besides the two producing hubs on Block 15/06 and the Agogo hub being developed, “Eni currently operates in exploration phase Block 1/14 (offshore Lower Congo Basin), Blocks Cabinda Norte and Cabinda Centro (onshore) and will soon increase its operated areas with Block 28 in the offshore Namibe Basin.”