If you travel to Australia these days, you'll see two things jumping: kangaroos and oil and natural gas companies. In fact, the companies may even outnumber the marsupials, if the way they're increasing their acreage Down Under is anything to go by. The latest to jump on the bandwagon is Eni (NYSE: E ) .
Eni has increased its acreage in Australia through the purchase of a 40% stake in the Evans Shoal gas field in the Timor Sea. The deal with Santos will cost Eni $350 million, with an initial payment of $250 million and the rest coming in due course, depending on the investment decision and the level of reserves. Of the stake it acquired, Eni has agreed to sell off 7.5% to its Evans Shoal field project partner, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A ) (NYSE: RDS-B ) . The company expects to commence exploration and drilling activities in the second half of 2012.
The offshore Evans Shoal field, which lies in the north Bonaparte Basin, promises a huge quantity of reserves for Eni --up to 7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Moreover, the fact that the exploration site is located near the LNG facilities of Darwin, where Eni has a non-operating interest, gives an added advantage
Oz on everyone's mind
Eni entered Australia in 2000 and holds interests in 19 offshore exploration and production licenses. The company attaches a lot of importance to this part of the world, as do its peers that are involved in various Oz projects. For instance, ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP ) is the joint operator of the Australia Pacific LNG project, and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) and Apache (NYSE: APA ) are operators of the Wheatstone LNG project.
The thrust has been on LNG because of Australia's proximity to the ultra-lucrative Asian markets. Eni is building bases not only in Australia, but also on the east coast of Africa and in Ukraine to cater to the demand of the emerging Asian markets.
Foolish bottom line
With the world attaching greater importance to greener energy, LNG's demand is bound to catapult -- and we're seeing it already in the huge demand in Asian markets. With a presence in major LNG acreages all over the world, especially in Australia, Eni is expected to grab these opportunities and boost its revenues. Keep track of Eni's Oz ventures and more by adding the stock to My Watchlist.