Ivory Coast Is Said to Near Oil-Block Deals With Total, Eni

(Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast is nearing production-sharing deals for oil and gas with Total SA and Eni SpA, according to two people familiar with the matter, signaling rising interest from supermajors to explore for crude in West Africa.

Talks between the government and the companies over separate deals for two blocks each are at an advanced stage and expected to be concluded before year-end, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. While the size of the companies’ holdings are yet to be finalized, their stakes will be at least 85 percent, with state-owned oil producer Petroci Holdings owning the remaining portion, said the people.

A spokeswoman for Eni declined to comment on emailed queries, while a spokeswoman for Total couldn’t immediately respond when contacted by phone. A spokesman for Ivory Coast’s government didn’t answer calls, while a spokesman for Petroci declined to comment when reached by phone.

Ivory Coast has awarded blocks over the past year to producers from BP Plc to Tullow Oil Plc as operators are lifting output to about 200,000 barrels per day in neighboring Ghana. The world’s biggest cocoa producer is seeking to diversify an economy in which exports are dominated by shipments of the chocolate-ingredient and gold.

Ivory Coast produced an average of about 34,000 barrels of crude a day in 2017, according to government figures.

Eni is negotiating for blocks CI-501 and CI-504, said the people. Total is in talks for blocks CI-705 and CI-706, they said.

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