Italian group ENI formally launched the Coral Sul natural gas exploration project in Maputo on Thursday, as well as signing of all contracts, namely those relating to the construction and setting up of the production platform, the group said in a statement issued in Milan.

The statement added that documents related to the regulatory framework and financing of the project had been signed with the Mozambican government during a ceremony attended by the President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Leticia Klemens, the chairman of the ENI group, Claudio Descalzi and the other partners in the Area 4 block.

Wang Yilin, from the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Carlos Gomes da Silva of Portugal’s Galp Energia group, Seunghoon Lee from South Korean group Kogas and Omar Mithá from state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos ENH.

The Coral Sul project is the first to be developed in the Rovuma Area 4 Block, which contains reserves estimated at 450 billion cubic metres (16 trillion cubic feet), and the gas to be extracted and liquefied has already been sold to the BP group under a contract signed in October 2016 valid for a period of 20 years.

The Italian group operates as the Area 4 operator through its stake in ENI East Africa, which controls 70% of the block, with partners Galp Energia and Kogas and Mozambican state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH), with 10% each.

ENI East Africa, in turn, is controlled by ENI, with 71.4% and CNPC, with 28.6%, with the sale of half of the Italian group’s stake to US group ExxonMobil still depending on a decision from regulators from Mozambique and other jurisdictions.

The Coral Sul project is based on the installation of a floating platform with a capacity to process about 3.4 million tonnes of natural gas per year, the first of its kind in Africa and the third in the world.

Sixty percent of the financing for construction of this platform was obtained from 15 large international banks and guaranteed by five export credit agencies, the statement said.