Working with Italian oil giant Eni, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) expects to complete the expansion of gas production by the end of the year from a major offshore field in the Mediterranean, NOC said in a statement.

The partners have seven more wells to complete at the second phase of development at the offshore Bahr Essalam field, which will be done by the end of 2018, NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement.

The offshore Bahr Essalam field, which sits about 110 kilometres off the Libyan coast, is operated by Mellitah Oil & Gas, a joint venture of Italy’s Eni and NOC. Gas production from phase 2 began in March, with 10 wells linked to Mellitah’s Sabratha Marine Platform.

The field was brought onstream in 2005 and produces 995 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas, along with 36,000 barrels a day (b/d) of condensates. These are partially treated at five processing trains with a capacity of up to 695 million cf/d for gas and 31,000 b/d for liquids, before being pumped back onshore for further treatment.

The joint venture awarded a contract worth more than $500m in early 2016 to French engineers TechnipFMC for subsea installations and a new platform for the second phase of the field. It was one of only a handful of projects carried out in Libya since the revolution in 2011.

Eni, which is Libya’s largest foreign producer, announced in October it had signed a deal with the UK’s BP and NOC to work together to resume oil exploration in the embattled North African country next year.

The agreement covers an existing exploration and production-sharing agreement (EPSA), which includes three areas — two in the onshore Ghadames basin in the northwest and one in the offshore eastern Sirte basin.

Eni produced approximately 384,000 barrels of oil a day (boe/d) in 2017. This was mostly made up of gas and condensates from Bahr Essalam and Bouri, and two onshore fields – Elephant (El-Feel) and Wafa.

The company recently completed upgrades to its compression facility at the Wafa field, with NOC saying it expected the first gas to come onstream “within days”. This was “a successful joint project in challenging conditions in Libya’s remote interior”, NOC said after meeting with Eni’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, on 3 November.

The meeting was the first by the head of a major oil company since NOC’s headquarters were attacked by gunmen in early September.

The two new compressors will boost gas production by as much as 80 million cf/d. Another two compressors, which will be completed in February and March next year, will take gas output to more than 100 million cf/d.

Output from the onshore Wafa gas field is mixed with gas from the offshore Bouri and Bahr Essalam field at the Mellitah Gas complex, about 100 kilometres west of Tripoli. After being treated, the gas is exported through the 516km Greenstream pipeline under the Mediterranean to Gela in Sicily.