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Production from Ivory Coast’s highly anticipated Baleine oil field is expected this year 

It is owned by a consortium comprising ENI, an Italian multinational oil and gas company, and Petroci, the Ivorian national oil company, that jointly operates and manages the field for exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons in the area.

Located near Assouindé, southeast of Abidjan, this significant oil field is projected to yield more than 2bn barrels of crude oil and 2,400 to 3,300bn cu/ft of natural gas in two phases.The initial phase, slated to commence in 2023, will account for 15% of the field’s total production, while the subsequent phase is expected to span 30 years. Recent drilling in Baleine E1X has unveiled even greater reserves of oil and gas in the adjacent block, elevating the total estimated quantities to approximately 2.5bn barrels of oil and 3,300bn cu/ft of gas, surpassing earlier projections by a remarkable 25%.

According to Ivorian authorities, a floating storage production and offloading (FPSO) vessel, named Baleine, departed from Dubai on 6 April to Côte d'Ivoire to begin production, 18 months after its commercial discovery. The vessel has a processing capacity of 15,000 barrels/day (bbls/d) of crude oil, a storage capacity of 650,000 bbls, an unloading capacity of 520,000 bbls, treatment of produced water 7,600 bbls/d and a draft of 5.5 m.

Côte d'Ivoire’s Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Energy, Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, traveled to Dubai to observe the tradition of blessing the ship before its launch. He underscored the rapid progress of the Baleine project which has necessitated substantial investment into the country, including the drilling of three production wells in the field that are currently nearing completion. Furthermore, an 80 km hydrocarbon transport pipeline has been installed, and the FPSO has been refurbished to meet operational requirements. Coulibaly encouraged major industry players to explore the vast potential of Ivory Coast’s sedimentary basin, as he proclaimed that there are numerous other 'Baleines' yet to be discovered in the country. The upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 conference presents an opportunity to further explore and invest in Ivory Coast’s burgeoning energy landscape.

Historically, the country has maintained a relatively moderate level of hydrocarbon production, averaging around 30,000 barrels per day. However, with the upcoming exploitation phase of the Baleine field, the country’s crude oil production is projected to surge by 50% in the short term, heralding a transformative shift.

Furthermore, Côte d'Ivoire stands to benefit from the associated natural gas, which can be utilised to power its electricity plants, bolstering the country’s energy security and sustainability. These momentous developments also have the potential to foster regional collaboration, as similar offshore projects are underway in the MSGBC basin, notably in Mauritania and Senegal.