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Image courtesy of Eni.

Italy’s Eni made a new oil discovery at the Minsala Marine exploration prospect in offshore Congo Thursday that could have reserves of 1 billion barrels of oil.

The discovery was made through the Minsala Marine 1 well. The well was drilled in water depths of 246 feet and reached a total depth of 12,139 feet.

Minsala Marine 1 encountered a “significant accumulation” of light oil in the Lower Cretaceous age pre-salt sequence, passing through a hydrocarbon column of 420 meters.

Preliminary estimates place potential reserves at the discovery at about 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent in place, with oil accounting for 80 percent of reserves.

Minsala Marine 1 is located in the Marine XII Block offshore Congo, about 28 miles from the shoreline and 7 miles from the recent Nené Marine discovery.

Minsala Marine 1 is Eni’s third discovery to be successfully drilled in the Marine XII permit pre-salt play in Congo following the Litchjendily and Nené Marine discoveries.

Litchjendily and Nené Marine are both already under development.

Eni has discovered about 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in place between Congo and Gabon over the last several years.

“We are delighted with this important result. It has been over four years since Eni started exploring the shallow water pre-salt plays of West Africa, and this campaign continues to deliver great results,” Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said.