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UPDATE 1-Eni halts drilling in Rosneft-led offshore project over U.S. sanctions

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DAVOS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Italian oil and gas group Eni has suspended exploration drilling in the Black Sea in a Rosneft-led offshore project because of U.S. sanctions, the company's chairwoman said on Wednesday.

"We asked authorisation to the U.S., and so we obtained the authorisation from the U.S., so we started to drill this well, but then now we have to stop because ... sanctions are hitting this," Emma Marcegaglia said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"We will try to understand a little bit better what we should do ... We have to be absolutely compliant with the U.S. authority because we are also listed in the U.S.," she told a session attended by Russian officials and business people.

Kremlin-controlled giant Rosneft said in December it had started exploration drilling for oil and gas at a Black Sea offshore deposit. Rosneft was not available for immediate comment.

According to shipping data on the Thomson Reuters terminal, the drilling vessel Scarabeo 9, owned by Italian oil service group Saipem and used for the Rosneft offshore project, is now in the Black sea not far from the oil deposit.

Eni has three licences with Rosneft in the Black Sea and Barents Sea.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, additonal reporting by Oksana Kobzeva and Vladimir Soldatkin.; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Denis Pinchuk, editing by David Evans)

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