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Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi. Image courtesy of Eni/Flickr.

Italy’s Eni kicked off production on Monday at the giant gas field Perla in the Gulf of Venezuela.

The first production well has been opened and is currently in the clean-up phase, the company said.

The field is located about 31 miles offshore in the Cardón IV Block operated by “Cardón IV S.A.,” a company jointly owned by Eni and Spain’s Repsol.

Perla is the largest offshore gas field discovered to date in Latin America and the first gas field to be brought to production in offshore Venezuela.

“This was achieved through close and successful cooperation between the Venezuelan Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, PDVSA, Cardón IV and its Shareholders,” Eni said.

The field currently holds 17 trillion cubic feet of gas in place, an amount that corresponds to 3.1 billion of barrels of oil equivalent, with additional potential.

The reservoir consists of Mio-Oligocene age carbonates with “excellent characteristics,” located about 9,842 feet below sea level, at a water depth of 196 feet.

According to Eni, the field’s best wells are expected to produce over 150 million standard cubic feet per day (Mscfd) each.

“Eni has reached another milestone with the production start-up of the Perla offshore field, in line with the timing presented to the market in March during the Strategy presentation. Perla was for Eni one of the most significant start-up projects of 2015, and the today result confirms the validity of our development model that allowed us to reach production in an industry-leading time to market,” Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said.

The development plan includes four light offshore platforms linked by a 30 inch pipeline to a central processing facility located onshore at Punto Fijo and 21 producer wells.

In the central processing facility two treatment trains have been installed that are capable of handling 150 Mscfd and 300 Mscfd each.

The field was discovered in 2009 and its development was completed in five years, an industry-leading time to market.

“This excellent performance was achieved thanks to an extensive use of pre-pack modules in the realization of the onshore gas treatment trains, in order to minimize construction works,” Eni said.

Cardón IV signed a Gas Sales Agreement with Venezuela’s PDVSA for all three phases that extends into 2036.

The gas will mainly be used by PDVSA for the domestic market.