Although untested, the Total-operated Saphir-1XB in Block CI-514 is described as an important discovery in a frontier part of deepwater offshore Côte d’Ivoire, as it has demonstrated a working petroleum system. Located in a water depth of 2,300m, the well was drilled to a total depth of 4,655m. It encountered a series of thick sands of approximately 350m, containing a hydrocarbon column of about 40m high of 34° API light oil. Marc Blaizot, Senior Vice President, Exploration commented: “Drilled in an abrupt margin play, this first well is the first discovery in theSan Pedro Basin, a frontier exploration area in Ivory Coast. Having confirmed the presence of a petroleum system containing light oil, we will next evaluate this very promising find and focus on its extension to the north and east.”
Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan remains bullish about reaching a previously-announced target of 200,000 bopd by 2019 despite a recent drop in output due to technical issues and a political crisis in 2010–11 that forced companies to invoke force majeure. In recent years the country has lost its competitive edge to neighbouring Ghana in attracting upstream investment. However, Total recently announced plans to spend up to US$300 million drilling exploration wells in contiguous ultra-deepwater blocks CI-514, CI-515 and CI-516, which cover nearly 2,300 km2. In addition, Lukoil, Total, Tullow and Vanco have all announced discoveries in the Côte d’Ivoire Basin since mid-2012.