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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Africa's Latest Exploration Hotspot Set to Triple Oil Production

  • West Africa's deepwater has become a key drilling target for some of the biggest international companies.
  • Cote d'Ivoire has been producing crude for years and is set to triple its output by 2027 thanks to the recent oil and gas finds in its waters.
  • Cote d'Ivoire expects to boost its oil production to 200,000 barrels per day by 2027, up from about 60,000 bpd now.
Senegal

As oil majors return to offshore exploration, West Africa's deepwater has become a key drilling target for some of the biggest international companies.

Cote d'Ivoire and Namibia have been the hottest exploration areas in recent years, yielding some huge oil and gas discoveries.

While Namibia has yet to launch its own crude oil production, Cote d'Ivoire has been producing crude for years and is set to triple its output by 2027 thanks to the recent oil and gas finds in its waters.   

Cote d'Ivoire expects to boost its oil production to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2027, up from about 60,000 bpd now, the West African country's president Alassane Ouattara said this week. The country, also referred to as Ivory Coast, expects to attract $15 billion in investments in its oil and gas sector and become a regional oil and gas hub.  

Fast Track from Discovery to Production

The most active oil major in Cote d'Ivoire is Italy's Eni, which has made two significant discoveries since 2021 and started up production from one of these just two years after striking oil.

In August 2023, Eni started oil and gas production from the Baleine field offshore Cote d'Ivoire, less than two years after the discovery in September 2021 and less than a year and a half after the Final Investment Decision (FID). According to the Italian group, Baleine is the first Scope 1 and 2 emissions-free production project in Africa.

The initial production phase is taking place via a refurbished and upgraded Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit capable of handling up to 15,000 bpd and around 25 Mscf/d of associated gas.

Related: Natural Gas Outlook Mixed Amid Volatile European Markets

The Baleine field, which will be developed in three phases, will see the second development phase boosting oil output to 50,000 bpd by the end of 2024. Full field development production will yield 150,000 bpd of oil when full development is completed by 2027. Baleine is estimated to hold 2.5 billion potential barrels of oil in place, Eni says.

All the natural gas from the field will go to Cote d'Ivoire's domestic market via a new pipeline to the shore.

A few months after announcing the start-up of the Baleine field, Eni said in March this year that it had made another oil discovery, named Calao, offshore Cote d'Ivoire.

The exploration well encountered light oil, gas, and condensates characterized by good to excellent permeability values, while preliminary assessments indicate potential resources ranging between 1 billion and 1.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent. 

Calao is the second largest discovery in Cote d'Ivoire after the Baleine field discovered by Eni in September 2021, the Italian company said.

If Eni manages to fast-track the Calao development as it did with Baleine, the West African country could further boost its oil and gas production.

Cote d'Ivoire's producing Baobab offshore field has recently attracted the attention of Houston-based Vaalco Energy, which acquired earlier this year Svenska Petroleum Exploration, a Swedish privately-held firm, whose primary asset is a 27.39% non-operated working interest in Baobab.

The field, which has been in operation for nearly two decades, is planned to see dry-docking and upgrading of the FPSO in 2025, which "will position us well for the expected production growth from the 2026 drilling program and for future drilling campaigns for many years to come," Vaalco Energy's CEO George Maxwell said.

"We are adding an asset with strong current production and reserves at a very attractive price," Maxwell added.

Africa Potential  

Further south from Cote d'Ivoire along the West Africa coast is Namibia, considered the world's next prized oil production hotspot that could replicate Guyana's success.

Shell, TotalEnergies, and Portugal's Galp have announced major oil discoveries offshore Namibia in recent years.

At the end of April, Galp Energia said that the first phase of its exploration in the Mopane field offshore Namibia could contain at least 10 billion barrels of oil.

Namibia is a key exploration target for Galp, as well as for supermajors Shell and TotalEnergies.

TotalEnergies and Shell have already made large discoveries offshore Namibia, kicking off the Namibian oil rush in 2022.

TotalEnergies made a significant discovery of light oil with associated gas on the Venus prospect in the Orange Basin in early 2022. Venus in Namibia could be a "giant oil and gas discovery," the French supermajor said in an investor presentation in September 2022.

Over the past two years, Shell has made four oil and gas discoveries in the Orange Basin offshore Namibia.

In May this year, a BP-Eni joint venture, Azule Energy, announced an agreement to take 42.5% in an offshore block in Namibia, which Azule Energy CEO Adriano Mongini described as a "highly prospective hydrocarbon region."

Despite still uncertain development designs, timing, and production levels, Wood Mackenzie estimates that Namibia's oil economics could be robust, with net present value (NPV) remaining positive even at oil prices as low as $40 per barrel.

TotalEnergies and QatarEnergy are also expanding their efforts to explore for oil and gas in the Orange Basin by acquiring a nearby license in the basin in South African waters. 

Cote d'Ivoire, Namibia, and South Africa have become the supermajors' new targets for offshore exploration and production.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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