Italy’s ENI and its partner Russia’s LUKOIL have been awarded rights to Block 28, located in the medium-deep waters of the Cuenca Salina Basin, offshore Mexico, the Italian company said on March 28. This allows ENI to build up and consolidate a new core area with significant operational synergies in Mexico, the Italian energy major said.

ENI will be the operator of the license with a 75% stake in the joint venture, while LUKOIL has the remaining 25%. This new award comes as the outcome of the first international competitive bid round dubbed “Ronda 3” by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos, CNH) which offered blocks located in water depths between 20 and 500 meters. The contract award is subject to approval from the authorities.

The Cuenca Salina Basin ENI holds a 100% stake in Area 1, where it has discovered approximately 2 billion barrels of hydrocarbons in place and has already submitted to the approval of the local authorities the Development Plan (PoD) to exploit the discovered resources. ENI is also the Operator of four other exploration and production blocks in the Cuenca Salina Basin: Block 7 (ENI 45%), Block 10 (ENI 100%), Block 14 (ENI 60%), and Block 24 (ENI 65%).

ENI has been present in Mexico since 2006 and established its wholly owned subsidiary ENI Mexico S de RL de CV in 2015.