Oil & Gas: Growth sector seeks investors in Côte d’Ivoire

By Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan
Posted on Friday, 26 July 2013 09:38

After a drilling operation launched last January, French group Total has reasons to be cheerful about its block CI-100 located in the Ivorian sedimentary basin, about 100km from Abidjan.

The oil major announced in late April that it discovered a layer of good-quality net oil pay around 28m thick at 2,280m of water deep offshore.

Analysis of the find is ongoing, but this was just the first exploratory well on the block.

Ivorian company Yam’s Petroleum, run by architect Pierre Fakhoury, originally owned all of Block CI-100.

Yam’s sold 60 percent to Total in 2010 and a fur- ther 15% to Ivorian state oil company Pétroci, retaining 25 percent.

Outlook optimistic

The discovery has boosted hopes among oil companies that have acquired acreage off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire.

On 17 February 2012, Total signed three other offshore prospection licences – CI-514 (54 percent), CI-515 (45 percent) and CI-516 (45 percent) – along with Canadian Natural Resources, Anadarko and Pétroci.

Companies completed the first round of seismic 3D in late 2012.

“We are still waiting for the results, but we are optimistic on the potential of the country,” says Nicolas Payer-Bertrand, director of Total Exploration and Production in Côte d’Ivoire.

The French group is not the first company to announce finds. Russia’s Lukoil, the US’s Anadarko and Ireland’s Tullow also declared positive results between December 2011 and June 2012.

These finds promise greater production in the years to come, but the country is not a major producer today.

Its 2010 production of 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) has fallen to about 35,000bpd.

The same downward slide is mirrored in government receipts from the sector, which have fallen by 36 percent since 2011.

The government, nonetheless, has big plans: “Our ambition is to reach 200,000bpd in five years,” says Adama Toungara, the minister of mines, oil and energy.

In the past few years, the government has signed 12 production-sharing contracts with companies including African Petroleum, Anardako and Tullow.

The state’s plan is to encourage oil companies to multiply their drilling efforts.

“From April 2011 until April 2013 we have had 16 wells drilled, while in the 10 years before that we had just five,” confides a member of Pétroci’s board who requested anonymity.

Power outages

The country is attempting to broker new partnerships to accelerate developments.

From a total of 51 oil and gas blocks, the government has already attributed 26 licences.

Chinese, US and Middle Eastern companies are interested in accessing offshore permits in the coming years.

Aside from its oil, Côte d’Ivoire also has gas, which is being used to supply power stations.

On 6 May, Foxtrot International – owned by SCDM Energie, itself a subsidiary of the French group Bouygues – announced plans to monetise gas finds on block CI-27, which is also owned by Pétroci and GDF Suez.

With the support of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, the partners on block CI-27 will double production levels by setting up a platform at the Marlin find that will handle 156m ft3 per day of natural gas.

The gas from the Foxtrot platform already supplies the AZITO and CIPREL power plants, and production from the Marlin platform will do the same.

Bouygues says that an investment of $1bn in its Ivorian gas field will provide enough natural gas for the domestic market’s demand for the next decade. The new capacity should lead to a reduction in power outages. ●

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