3 Min Read
* Discovery in western waters comes after oil first struck in east
* Total to drill another two wells in the area in 2014/15
* Ivory Coast seeks to boost energy sector (Adds background, shares)
By Michel Rose and Joe Bavier
PARIS/ABIDJAN, April 17 (Reuters) - France's Total said on Thursday it had discovered oil in a deep offshore area in the west of Ivory Coast, the company's second oil find in a year in the West African country.
"This well is the first discovery in the San Pedro Basin, a frontier exploration area in Ivory Coast," Total senior vice president for exploration Marc Blaizot said in a statement.
"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."
Oil and gas exploration in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea has risen sharply since Ghana discovered its giant Jubilee field in 2007 and brought it to production in record time in late 2010.
Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, is seeking to accelerate development of its energy sector, neglected during a decade-long political crisis that ended in a brief civil war in 2011.
Much of the offshore investment to date has focused on waters along its eastern maritime border with Ghana, close to the Jubilee and TEN oil and gas fields operated by London-listed Tullow Oil.
Total said in April last year it had discovered oil in the CI-100 block within Ivory Coast's eastern waters adjacent to the maritime boundary with Ghana, while Tullow also struck oil in its portion of CI-100 last year.
However, companies including Total, Texas-based Anadarko and Canada's CNR are increasingly looking to opportunities in the west, closer to Ivory Coast's border with Liberia.
Shares in Total were down 0.34 percent by 0925 GMT, in line with a decline in the European oil and gas index.
The group had disappointing exploration results in recent years, although it embarked on what it called a costly "high-risk, high-reward" drilling strategy to take advantage of sustainably high oil prices above $100 a barrel.
In 2014, it is set to spend $2.8 billion on 60 wells, the same as in 2013 but up 12 percent on 2012, drilling two other wells offshore Ivory Coast but also off the coasts of Brazil, South Africa, Angola and in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Additional reporting by James Regan; Editing by Dale Hudson)