* Official says 200,000 bpd possible within five years
* Vanco, Tullow announced recent discoveries
* Oil exploration booming off West Africa
By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN, Jan 3 Ivory Coast hopes to raise its
oil output to around 200,000 barrels per day in five years from
32,000 bpd now thanks to recent discoveries and ongoing
exploratory drilling, a top oil official said.
Oil exploration off Africa's west coast has risen sharply
since Ivory Coast's neighbour Ghana discovered a large field in
2007 and brought it into production in record time in late 2010.
Oil firm Vanco Cote d'Ivoire announced in December it had
found light oil on Ivory Coast's offshore block CI-401, six
months after U.K.-based Tullow Oil said it struck light
oil on block CI-103.
"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 bpd in the
five years ahead," Ibrahima Diaby, head of hydrocarbons at the
Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Energy told Reuters in an
He said Vanco and Tullow were planning further drilling on
their discoveries in 2013 and 2014 to clarify reserves.
Oil output has fallen nearly in half in Ivory Coast due to
technical problems and low levels of investment during a decade
of political turmoil that culminated in a 2011 civil war.
But Diaby said that Ivory Coast had signed 14 new production
sharing contracts since the end of the war and had seen a boom
in exploration activity by international oil firms, including
France's Total, and U.S.-based Anadarko.
He said the government had also signed three exclusive
exploitation deals for natural gas fields in 2012, including two
with Ivory Coast-based Foxtrot and one with Rialto. He said
natural gas production in the country could rise to 250 million
cubic feet per day from 170 mmcfd currently.
Diaby said Ivory Coast remained in talks with Ghana over
their shared land and sea border. Both sides have played down
the talks, saying there was no evidence rights to a key oil find
were at stake.
The world's top cocoa grower, Ivory Coast is seeking to
diversify its economy, in part by boosting its energy and mining
sectors. Diaby said some 800 billion CFA francs ($1.6 billion)
worth of investments were planned in the energy sector, with
funds coming from state firm Petroci as well as partners in
Europe and the United States. He gave no details.