Mozambique Exploration Is Paying Off Big

| About: ENI S.p.A. (E)

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world and agriculture employs 80% of its labor force but things may rapidly change because the country is likely to become the destination of a new "gold rush" for energy companies.

Yesterday, Italian energy company Eni (NYSE:E) announced a new giant gas find at the Mamba North prospect (Area 4), 45 kilometers off the Capo Delgado coast, encountering a mineral potential of 7.5 tcf (trillion cubic feet). This comes on top the recent huge gas discovery in the Mamba South prospect, where an estimate 22.5 tcf of gas are in place, for a total extraction potential of about 30 tcf. To put that into perspective, such an amount is enough to satisfy all U.S. gas needs for about one and a half years. Let's try to give a value to this discovery: 30 tcf of gas correspond to 5 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Therefore, over the life of the Mamba field, if all this energy were produced and sold at an average price of $80 per barrel - a conservative estimate, since the EIA expects the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil to average about $100 per barrel in 2012 and 106 in 2013 - and taking into account Eni's 70% interest, we get to a gross value of the discovery of about $280 billion. If Eni manages to achieve a 10% profit margin, it can expect to earn a net profit of $28 billion from this field alone. While this is a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation, it gives you an idea of how valuable this gas find is.

The first production tests have been encouraging, producing high quality gas flow rates, with estimated production per well expected to reach over 4 million cubic meters a day.

Eni is the operator of Area 4 with a 70% participating interest, while Portuguese Galp Energia (OTC:GLPEF), South Korean KOGAS and Mozambique State Company ENH own 10% each.

U.S. based Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) and its UK partner Cove Energy (OTC:CNVGF) are exploring offshore Mozambique as well and have made similar discoveries in the neighboring Area 1, adding up to 10 tcf of natural gas.

Statoil (NYSE:STO) is also active in Mozambique and is the operator of Offshore Area 2 and a neighboring concession off the cost of Tanzania, which it partly farmed out to Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM).

Other oil majors will be likely attracted like bears to honey and this will bring about new infrastructure projects, especially in LNG facilities; although Mozambique is not Finland, it is a relatively stable democracy and foreign workers' safety is less of an issue in comparison to other resources rich African countries, and this can also contribute to an increase in foreign investments in the country.

Disclosure: I am long E.