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

ExxonMobil may be in talks to buy a minority stake in a giant Eni operated gas field in onshore Mozambique.

Two sources familiar with the matter told Forbes that Exxon is in talks to buy about a 15 percent stake in the Area 4 onshore gas field.

Other unnamed companies may also be in talks with Eni to purchase a stake in the field.

Eni holds a 50 percent operating stake in Area 4, located in the Rovuma Basin, and estimates that the field holds about 88 trillion cubic feet of gas.

“I am upbeat a deal will be reached fairly soon,” one of the sources told Forbes.

Neither company has commented on the matter.

Eni has had a string of successes in Africa with its most recent find in offshore Congo holding an estimated 250 to 350 million barrels of oil equivalent in place.

Last week, ratings agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s both downgraded Eni’s long-term corporate credit rating.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Eni’s long-term corporate credit rating to Baa1 with a stable outlook, down from an A3 on review for downgrade rating.

Moody’s also confirmed the company’s P-2 short-term credit rating.

Standard & Poor’s lowered Eni’s long-term corporate credit rating to BBB+ with a stable outlook, down from A- with CreditWatch with negative implications.

Standard & Poor’s also confirmed the company’s A-2 short-term credit rating.

Italy-based Eni said on Thursday that the Standard & Poor’s downgrade was primarily driven by low oil prices.

Eni announced a new asset disposal program earlier this month that is targeting $7.85 billion in disposal “mainly through the dilution of high working interest stakes in recent material discoveries.”

The company also cut its 2015 to 2019 capital expenditure plan down to about $41.48 billion, a 21 percent reduction compared to its previous plan.

“Our industry is facing a very complex challenge: reducing costs to fulfill short term constraints while enhancing long term value…. We have started a new cycle of profitable growth and have the potential to extract more value in the future,” Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi.


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