Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:06 UK

'Oil discovered' off Sierra Leone

An oil rig off Ghana
A recent oil discovery off Ghana sparked huge optimism in the region

A US oil firm has announced the discovery of a deepwater oil well off the coast of Sierra Leone.

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation said it confirmed the existence of an "active petroleum system" in the Sierra Leone-Liberian basin.

Two years ago, oil was discovered off Ghana by the same drillers.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and still faces the challenge of reconstruction after a brutal civil war which ended in 2002.

The country is also rich in diamonds and other minerals, but the trade in illicit gems, known as "blood diamonds" for their role in funding conflicts, perpetuated the civil war.

Anadarko Petroleum said the new well - called Venus - is one of more than 30 identified prospects across 10 blocks offshore of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

"We are optimistic that the continued success of our West African Cretaceous program will create substantial value for our stakeholders as well as the people of West Africa through continued investment and increased activity," said Bob Daniels, Andarko vice-president.

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