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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 14:56 GMT
Oil boost for Ivory Coast
Abidjan skyline
Oil production should increase the country's wealth
The development of oil fields off the Ivory Coast could reduce the country's reliance on cocoa revenues.

Explorer Tullow Oil says that initial flows last week indicated potentially large reserves.

The company's contract is such that it is confident that it can make money even if the oil price falls as low as $12 or $13 a barrel.

The government is also set to benefit from the oil flows, given that it has a 10% stake in the licence to the state oil company and a stake in Tullow Oil's returns.

The oil exploration group has plans for three more production wells in the Espoir field this year.

Offshore prospects

Tullow Oil began prospecting off the Ivory Coast four years ago in partnership with Canadian Natural Resources.

Last week it recorded flows of 8,500 barrels a day from the Espoir Field.

It believes these flows could rise to 30,000 barrels a day within a year.

Tullow finance director, Tom Hickey, told the BBC's World Business Report that while initial tests showed reserves of 50-60 million barrels, but he now believes that the reserves could be double that.

The development of these offshore fields could also boost regional industrial development.

The government in neighbouring Nigeria has faced criticism for not sharing the oil revenues.

"A core principal of developing projects of this nature is that there has to be a benefit for all participants and we hope the Ivorians are happy with what they have seen to date from this," Mr Hickey said.

Tom Hickey, Tullow Oil
"We hope the Ivorians are happy with what they have seen to date."
See also:

10 Jan 02 | Business
Nigeria invites in refinery-builders
12 Jul 00 | Africa
Oil wealth: An unequal bounty
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