ABIDJAN, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's Foxtrot International expects to secure natural gas production for the next decade with a series of new offshore wells it will begin drilling next year, company officials said on Wednesday.
Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, is in the midst of a revival following years of turmoil and civil war. It has invested heavily to boost power production in order to keep up with rapid GDP growth.
The country relies on thermal power stations fuelled by natural gas, however, and there is concern that it could soon face a supply crunch.
"The drilling will start in July and will last 400 days," Christian Sage, Foxtrot's managing director, told Reuters. "We are currently producing 140 million cubic feet per day. With this investment, we will secure production for at least 10 years."
Foxtrot is partly owned by the French industrial group Bouygues . Along with partners GDF Suez and Ivory Coast's national oil company, Petroci, it will invest around $1 billion to boost offshore production, the company said.
"We have large investments that will start to materialise in Ivory Coast, for which we will bring in platforms that will begin to arrive in November," said Bouygues Deputy CEO Olivier Bouygues.
The investments will go towards drilling seven new wells and build a new gas platform in Foxtrot's Marlin gas field, which is expected to go on-line next year.
Ivory Coast's gas output was around 220 million cubic feet of gas per day last year. The government is targeting production of around 250 million cubic feet per day this year.
Three other operators - CNR, London-listed Afren and Petroci - also produce gas. Nearly 70 percent of output is used for electricity production.
Ivory Coast aims to boost power output by 80 percent over six years to satisfy growing domestic and regional demand.
It exports electricity to Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Mali and has plans to connect Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to its grid as well.
Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Larry King