Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has approved Eni’s Plan of Development (POD) for the Merakes offshore gas project in the East Kalimantan province.

Located in the East Sepinggan block contained in the Makassar Strait, the Merakes field was discovered in 2014 and is estimated to hold nearly 2 trillion cubic feet of lean gas. This offshore gas field is located in 1,500 meters of water depth.

The Ministry’s approval comes three months after the submission of the POD by Eni, which is the operator of the East Sepinggan block with a stake of 85% held through its subsidiary Eni East Sepinggan. Pertamina Hulu Energy owns the remaining stake of 15%.

The approval has been given within 11 months of Eni commencing production from the deep-water Jangkrik fields complex in the Muara Bakau block.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said: “Today’s approval of the Merakes POD is a milestone for the development of our most recent discovery in the Kutei Basin. It is a fundamental step to progress towards the Final Investment Decision of the project.

“Merakes is another outcome of the Eni “near field” exploration and appraisal strategy. We are proud of Eni’s partnership with Indonesia, a key country in the company’s global strategies.”

The Merakes gas discovery is only 35kms away from the Jangkrik Floating Production Unit (FPU) in the southwest direction, which lets Eni to maximize the synergies with existing nearby infrastructures. It will also help the Italian oil and gas major to cut down on costs and time in executing what will be its second deep-water project in Indonesia.

As per the POD, Eni plans to drill and complete six subsea wells. It will also construct and install subsea systems and pipelines to tieback the Merakes gas field to the Jangkrik FPU.

The gas collected by the Jangkrik FPU will be transported through existing pipelines to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant operated by Badak in Bontang, East Kalimantan, which is 170km away from the Merakes gas field.

Eni added that the production from Merakes field like the Jangkrik field will help in extending the life of the Bontang LNG facilities, which supplies LNG to Indonesian and export markets alike.