Italy’s Eni ENI.SPA was the big winner in an Egyptian auction for oil and gas exploration rights on Tuesday, securing concessions for two of the four blocks outright, according to results from the petroleum ministry.

The company also won a third block with BP BP.L and QatarEnergy QATPE.UL in the Mediterranean Sea, while Russia’s Zarubezhneft was awarded a block in the Nile Delta.

Zarubezhneft’s win is a rare expansion abroad by a Russian company since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Zarubezhneft already operates in seven countries, including Egypt where it is a party to production sharing agreements at offshore blocks.

Zarubezhneft declined to comment further.

Egypt, which faces growing demand for gas from its population of 105 million, has been trying to position itself as a regional energy hub, selling its own gas and re-exporting Israeli gas as liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

However, the country faced some power cuts in the summer and its natural gas production has fallen to a three-year low.

The government in July announced the start of a $1.8 billion programme to drill natural gas exploration wells in the Mediterranean Sea and Nile Delta.