(AGI) Rome, Nov 17 - Eni and Sonangol, the national oil companyof Angola, signed an agreement on Monday on future cooperationactivities and joint projects in Angola's gas sector. The dealis a great step forward in the historic relations between bothenergy companies that could re-launch business and investmentsin the African country. Sonangol chairman Francisco de LemosMaria, in Rome to meet with Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, explainedin an interview with AGI: "Today we signed a strategicagreement that outlines a framework within which Eni andSonangol will collaborate over the next six months to study thepotential of the non-associated gas present in the Lower CongoBasin. We estimate the capacity in the blocks that are part ofthis area is enormous. Our intention is to assess thefeasibility of exploring and developing these resources." "Itis a big, big step forward," the chairman of Sonangolcontinued. "We're already producing gas in the country, butthey are small resources. The first is in the area of Cabinda,and the second is of the Angola LNG consortium in which Eni ispartner. But this is the first project that concernsnon-associated gas. Those resources have been there for yearsand have never been developed." De Lemos pointed out that Enihas been active in many projects in Angola since 1980 and thatthe Italian company "is a preferred partner." So far Eni andSonangol have mainly teamed up in the oil sector, as they didin the recent West Hub and East Hub projects. "Three years agoEni successfully entered block 15/06. And later this month theWest Hub field, in which Eni is active, will have its ownproduction in Angola. We expect a production of 75,000 barrelsper day from the West Hub project until the end of 2015, andthe same amount from East Hub by 2017, for a total productionof 150,000-200,000 barrels per day. It is a huge target." Thepresident of Sonagol underlined that the agreement signed onMonday is a milestone, because it could revise and revitalisetrade between Italy and Angola, and redraw Angola's traderelations at a regional level. "Together with Eni we will studythe possibility of investments downstream and, if gas is found,there will be many opportunities. Gas will become a tool tostrengthen trade relations of our countries and to open thedoor to other investors in different sectors." . .