Ivory Coast may be the latest West African country heading for an oil boom as the number of discoveries in the country mount. French major Total announced today that its first deep-water exploration well off the country’s coast had discovered light oil.
From the company: "The Ivoire-1X exploration well, located in the western portion of Block CI-100 in 2,280 meters of water, encountered 28 meters of net oil pay in a series of about 100 meters of Cretaceous reservoirs. The oil in the abrupt margin geological play is light 35° API oil."
Crucially, the well has provided further evidence that the prolific Tano Basin, where the Jubilee and other fields have been discovered in Ghana, extends west across the maritime border into Ivory Coast. Total’s C-100 deep-water block sits adjacent to the Ivory Coast-Ghana maritime border. Tullow Oil, which has led development of Ghana’s major oil projects, made a discovery in the nearby C-103 block in June last year.
And independent explorer PanAtlantic, formerly known as Vanco, made a discovery near the border in December 2011.
The string of offshore exploration successes has sparked optimism in the government that it will be able to replicate the oil boom seen in neighbouring Ghana. "With these discoveries and the projected investments, Ivory Coast will be able to realise its target of raising output from around 32,000 barrels per day now to around 200,000 b/d in the five years ahead," Ibrahima Diaby, the head of hydrocarbons at the ministry of mines, petroleum and energy told Reuters in an interview in January this year.
Diaby may be getting ahead of himself. Exploration is still in the early stages and the companies have not released any estimates for how much oil they might have found. It took Tullow three and a half years to bring the Jubilee field from exploration to production, and it has taken another year and a half to bring the field to full production levels. And that was an exceptionally fast development for a deep-water project.
But activity is picking up. Tullow plans to start drilling a follow-up well in the next few months to appraise the potential size and production potential of its discovery, and Total says that it is now developing its own appraisal drilling programme for the Ivoire-1x discovery. Ivory Coast looks certain to become an exploration hot spot in the coming years.