Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said Monday that a natural gas field discovered off the coast of Mozambique is the largest the company has ever found.
The Houston oil and gas company said the East African offshore field contains 15 to 30 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, up from an initial estimate of 6 trillion cubic feet. That's enough to satisfy U.S. natural gas demand for a year.
Africa's eastern coast has long been considered a peripheral player among world natural gas producers. But the Anadarko discovery, along with a similarly large find by Italian energy company Eni SpA in October, has elevated Mozambique as a potentially major gas exporter.
"This could be one of the most important natural gas fields discovered in the last 10 years," Anadarko Chairman and CEO Jim Hackett said.
The company is building a facility in the region to bring the gas ashore for international export. It expects to begin production in 2018, with exports likely headed to China and Japan, according to a company spokesman.
Anadarko has a 36.5 percent interest in the field. Mitsui E&P, BPRL Ventures Mozambique B.V., Videocon Mozambique Rovuma and Cove Energy Mozambique Rovuma Offshore Ltd. also own stakes in the field.
Shares rose $3.38, or 4.7 percent, to $75.22 in afternoon trading. Broader markets were also up sharply, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 2.1 percent.