Ivory Coast, a modest hydrocarbon producer, announced on Wednesday the "major discovery" of oil and natural gas off its coast during an exploratory drilling carried out by the Italian hydrocarbon giant Eni.
"A major discovery of oil in the sedimentary basin of Côte d'Ivoire has just been made by the Italian company Eni in the CI-101 block, in deep waters, operated in consortium with the national company Petroci Holding," said in a statement by the Ivorian Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Thomas Camara.
The reserves discovered concern crude oil and associated natural gas.
The potential "can be estimated in a preliminary way to about 1.5 to 2 billion barrels of crude oil on the one hand, and on the other hand to about 1,800 to 2,400 billion cubic feet of associated gas," said Thomas Camara, reporting "a significant discovery that would greatly increase the proven reserves of Ivory Coast, as well as its oil and gas production in the years to come".
The 3,445-metre-deep well was drilled about 60 kilometres (40 miles) off the coast in 30 days, Italy's Eni said. The firm added that it would now carry out a further evaluation of the wider potential of the find.
Ivory Coast had signed contracts in 2019 with Italy's Eni and France's Total, for the exploration of four oil blocks corresponding to an investment of $ 185 million.
Oil production in the country, which in 2019 recorded an increase of 12% to more than 36,000 barrels per day, comes from drilling wells located mainly offshore, near the border with Ghana.
The west African nation, a modest producer, revised its oil code in 2015 to attract new investors through production sharing contracts. The country has 51 identified fields, of which four are producing, 26 are in exploration and 21 are still free or under negotiation.
In 2014, the French group Total had mentioned a "very promising result" about its research in very deep waters off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire.
In addition to Total and Eni, several international companies, including Britain's Tullow Oil, have announced significant discoveries in recent years.