Cote d’Ivoire Oil and Gas: Huge Offshore Africa Potential

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“Houston is the oil capital of the world,” Cote d’Ivoire’s ambassador to the United States said on a visit to the city on 14 October 2014. Daouda Diabate was joined by Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and Adama Toungara, Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

This prestigious delegation was promoting the country’s newly designated ultra-deepwater blocks at an industry gathering hosted by PGS, which has acquired quite a bit of seismic in recent years off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire and has a number of data packages available for purchase.

Once The Source for Ivory

The West African nation’s name, which is still referred to as the Ivory Coast in some English-speaking circles, refers to the fact its 515km shoreline on the Gulf of Guinea was once the premier outlet for the export of ivory.

Sadly, Cote d’Ivoire’s elephant population has nearly been decimated in recent decades. This seems especially ironic as the country’s national football team, once captained by the legendary soccer player Didier Drogba, is called The Elephants. So perhaps it is fitting the country is inviting Western oil and gas companies to join them in the hunt for elephants of another variety, namely the hydrocarbon type.

Cote d’Ivoire may become known for Oil and Gas

Cote d’Ivoire lies on the West Africa Transform Margin, which has yielded oil discoveries in the multi-hundred-million-barrel range in its neighbor Ghana to the east. Cote d’Ivoire has set a goal of producing 200,000 boe/d by 2020, more than three times the current 60,000 boe/d.

Speaking of neighbors, it is impossible to talk about West Africa these days without the subject of Ebola coming up. “There is no Ebola in Cote d’Ivoire,” Prime Minister Duncan told the audience, pointing out that it has had a long-term strategy and monitoring committee that as kept the country to date free of the deadly virus despite its borders with Liberia and Guinea.

While Cote d’Ivoire’s huge hydrocarbon potential was the topic of the day, Ebola and elephants were just two of the usual West Africa subjects to be addressed. The country has suffered from two civil wars in the last 13 years, the most recent of which was in 2011.

Newfound stability

In the three years since that war ended, Cote d’Ivoire has been on a “successful journey” of peace, stability and a new attractive business climate. The country is enjoying a 10% growth rate. Its economy is currently based largely on agriculture, and Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s top exporter of cocoa and a leading coffee producer.

New mining contract terms were recently implemented and earlier this year the UN lifted its ban on Cote d’Ivoire diamonds. The prime minister also said he expects the boundary issue with Ghana to be “peacefully resolved” in short order.

On the oil and gas front the petroleum code was amended in 2012, while improvements were made to both the Production Sharing Contract model and the governance of the hydrocarbon sector. Investment credits are now offered for explorers in deep and ultra-deep waters, and 20 PSCs have been awarded since 2011.

New discoveries

Lukoil, which was represented at the gathering, spudded the first well in this new era of peace That well, the Independence 1X on CI-401, penetrated the targeted Turonian sandstone objective where it encountered 8m light oil (40 degree API) and gas-condensate pay in a series of good-quality sandstones.

Since then another three discoveries have been made off Cote d’Ivoire, including Total’s Saphir 1XB earlier this year on CI-514, which PGS noted has pushed the focus of exploration further to the west and into deeper water.

Four wells are to be drilled in the waters off Cote d’Ivoire prior to year-end 2014, including Anadarko’s Morue-1 on CI-516 which concluded drilling in late September (plugged and abandoned with oil shows), and that company’s Paon-3A on CI-103 which is being drilled by the “Bolette Dolphin” drillship. Another 10 wells are planned for 2015.

Nonetheless, drilling to date has been primarily focused in waters less than 3,000m deep and Cote d’Ivoire is determined to change that. Therefore seven new ultra-deepwater blocks have been delineated on new 2D data and are now open for negotiation.

Cote d’Ivoire Oil and Gas: Huge Offshore Africa Potential

The blocks are: CI-600 (6,415.29 sq km), CI-601 (3,852 sq km), CI-602 (3,873.55 sq km),CI-603 (5,542.94 sq km), Block C1-604 (6,546.52 sq km), CI-605 (6,472.38 sq km), CI-506 & 507 (3,637 sq km), CI-526 (2,979.1 sq km), CI-531 (757.9 sq km) and CI-543 (2,985.3 sq km).

Patrick Coole, a geoscientist with PGS who was introduced as a “pre-salt expert,” was on hand to discuss previous exploration, available data and perceived prospectivity of each of the blocks, including the combined CI-506 & 507 which has channelized submarine fan systems analogous to the Jubilee field in Ghana.

Andrew Hayman, Drillinginfo’s Africa manager, added: “These are exciting times. Cote d’Ivoire has been a modest oil producer since Espoir started in 1980; later, production stepped out off the shelf with Baobab. Now the country is on the cusp of deeper-water commercial success on a bigger scale, maybe even in both the Ivorian Basin and the (western) San Pedro margin.”

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Anne Leonard

In January 2015, Anne Leonard headed the team that launched the latest addition to DrillingInfo’s international publications, International Scout Frontier North America which covers the US Gulf of Mexico as well as Maritime and Arctic Canada. She has been reporting on exploration and production for more than 30 years. She began her career in Denver covering the Rocky Mountain Region, and has spent the last 10 years covering the international arena, with a particular focus on Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and the Far East. Anne received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Nebraska.