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
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.