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Ivory Coast to seek investors for deepwater oil blocks

[ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast ] Ivory Coast will seek investors in its available offshore oil acreage, including seven new ultra-deep water blocks in the Gulf of Guinea, at a promotional event in Texas next week, a senior oil ministry official said on Tuesday.

The West African nation will target companies including ExxonMobil, Total, Eni, Anadarko Petroleum, Tullow Oil and ConocoPhillips , the ministry's oil director Ibrahima Diaby said.

Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and Oil and Energy Minister Adama Toungara will lead the government delegation at its promotional event in Houston on Oct 14 and 15. "This oil roadshow in Houston will allow us to present the opportunities on offer in the Ivorian sedimentary basin, particularly in the deep and ultra-deep offshore zones," Mr Diaby said. "We have seven ultra-deep blocks at between 3,000 and 4,000 metres and several blocks between 50 metres and 1,000 metres." For decades Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, neglected development of its offshore oil and gas sector, choosing instead to concentrate on exporting agricultural commodities.

However, since a brief civil war ended a decade of political turmoil in 2011, President Alassane Ouattara has sought to diversify the economy and seek out new revenue sources.

The oil ministry signed 18 production-sharing agreements in 18 months in 2012 and 2013, as investors bet it could emulate neighbouring Ghana's hydrocarbons boom. Ivory Coast produces around 20,000 barrels of crude oil and around 250 million cubic feet of gas per day. It's seeking to boost crude output to around 200,000 bpd by 2020, Mr Diaby said.

Companies currently exploring in Ivorian waters include Anadarko, Tullow, Total, Lukoil, Canada's CNR, Afren, Africa Petroleum and Taleveras.

Ghana filed an arbitration suit under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea last month in a bid to resolve its maritime border dispute with Ivory Coast. The Ivorian government said it planned to file its own complaint against Ghana. - Reuters