Ghana, Ivory Coast aim to settle maritime boundary peacefully

Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:47pm EST
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* Ghana already a rising regional oil producer

* Ivory Coast seeks to assert claim after crisis years

BOUAKE, Ivory Coast Nov 26 (Reuters) - West African neighbours Ghana and Ivory Coast aim to settle a long dispute over their maritime boundary, the Ivorian government said, which could defuse sometimes tense relations and smooth the way for oil and gas exploration.

The countries have never officially delimited that boundary, and their maps showing offshore waters currently overlap.

So far only Ghana has awarded acreage in the disputed area.

Oil exploration in Africa's Gulf of Guinea has accelerated since Ghana discovered its giant Jubilee oil and gas field in 2007 and brought it online in record time in late 2010.

The field is estimated to hold around 2 billion barrels of oil reserves and another 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Ivory Coast, meanwhile, drilled only a handful of offshore exploration wells during a decade-long political crisis that ended in 2011.

It now seeks to expand its oil and gas industry and asserts that some offshore areas claimed by Ghana lie within its territorial waters.   Continued...