Italian oil giant Eni plans to invest $10bn, alongside Côte d’Ivoire’s national oil company Petroci, in the development and exploitation of its Baleine (the French word for ‘whale’) mega-field.
Discovered in August 2021, the field is located 80 kilometres south-east of Abidjan, off the coast of the seaside resort of Assouindé. Its potential is estimated at 2.5 billion barrels of oil and more than 3,300 billion cubic feet of associated natural gas.
In the past two years, Abidjan, located on the southern coast of Côte d’Ivoire, has become one of Claudio Descalzi’s favourite destinations.
The Milan-based CEO of Eni has attended several meetings at the presidential palace located in the city – residence of President Alassane Ouattara – where he has negotiated a number of benefits for the group, including the signing of an exclusive exploitation decree.
The big splash
To develop the field in very deep waters (between 900 and 1,400 metres), three wells have already been drilled, with 50km of lines and four subsea manifolds.
Some 80 kilometres of offshore pipeline have been built from the Baleine production platform to the Lion GPL offshore field, where Petroci holds a 17% stake in the project. 11 kilometres of onshore sections have also been built.
This infrastructure will enable gas to be exported to the coast. One of multiple innovations is the construction of micro-tunnels for the gas pipelines. The network was built by the private Ivorian company Kuyo Pipelines, headed by Vanessa Kuyo.
Forecasts for the field are estimated at 15,000 barrels per day, which will increase the country’s daily production to 65,000 barrels. It currently stands at between 30,000 and 50,000 barrels.
The Baleine field will reach 150,000 barrels per day by 2027, which will enable Côte d’Ivoire to join the top 10 oil producers in Africa – although it will remain far behind Libya (1.2 million barrels), Angola (1.1 million) and Nigeria (1.08 million).
Eni will invest in the production of natural gas to supply thermal power stations, with a projected output of 200,000 million cubic feet per day. The Ivorian government is interested in extracting by-products such as methane and butane, with a production capacity of 150,000 tonnes, equivalent to a third of household consumption.
Despite the impressive logistics involved, the environmental impact of the field should be limited, according to the Italian oil company. Behind the scenes, the company’s boss is quick to boast about how quickly the field was brought on stream, given the stringent environmental standards required.
Flaring – the process by which natural gas is burnt off in a controlled manner when oil is extracted – is not planned. To offset carbon production, Eni intends to invest in green projects such as forest preservation and the issue of certified carbon credits.
At the same time, the Italian group has signed an agreement with the federation of rubber planters to supply 20,000 tonnes of seeds a year to produce biofuel. The production and storage vessel Firenze, with a capacity of 600,000 tonnes, has already set sail for Baleine.
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