BP has signed a preliminary deal with Egypt to rapidly develop the Atoll offshore gas field that is now expected to produce first gas in 2018, the company said on Thursday.
BP's signing of the Heads of Agreement with Egypt's minister of petroleum followed discussions on Wednesday between BP chief executive Bob Dudley and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is on a visit to Britain.
"We are pleased to be making rapid progress towards the development of Atoll less than eight months after the announcement of its discovery," Dudley said in a statement on Thursday.
BP, which has cut future investment budgets by up to a third to $17-19 billion a year due to weak oil prices, said it would likely sanction the Atoll project next year.
In March, BP first announced the Atoll discovery, a relatively large find estimated to hold 1.5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 31 million barrels of condensates.
Since then, it has been eclipsed by Eni's "supergiant" Zohr gas find offshore Egypt announced in late August, the largest known field in the Mediterranean.