Italy's Eni SpA said Friday that it has acquired 104 exploration leases in northern Alaska from Armstrong Oil & Gas for an undisclosed amount. The portfolio, located both onshore and offshore in the Beaufort Sea along the Barrow Arch in the North Slope, includes two projects in the predevelopment stage and several defined exploration prospects, the producer said.

According to Eni, the exploration leases hold more than 170 million boe.

Eni has operated in the United States since 1966, and it holds about 90% of its leases in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The Italian producer operates directly in 70 of more than 300 exploration leases in the United States in which it participates.

In 2004, Eni's U.S. hydrocarbon production averaged 44,000 boe/d. Its main U.S. producing fields are Allegheny (100%) Morpeth (100%) and King Kong (50%), which accounted for 64% of Eni's production last year. Eni also is operator in the development of the K2 oil field (18.17%) with start-up expected in 2005. A peak production of 32,000 bbl/d (5,000 net to Eni) is expected in late 2005.

Besides the United States, Eni operates in Italy, North Africa, West Africa and the North Sea. It also operates in areas with development potential, including Latin America, Australia, the Middle and Far East and the Caspian Sea. In 2004 daily hydrocarbon production reached the record level of 1.624 million boe with a 4% increase over 2003, due to increases in consolidated areas and start-ups of relevant fields.

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