Italian oil and gas giant Eni has started production from an oil and gas field offshore Côte d’Ivoire, Africa, less than two years after the discovery in September 2021 and less than a year and a half after the final investment decision (FID) was made.
The Baleine East 1X well was drilled using the Saipem 12000 drillship. The well reached its final depth of 3,165 m measured depth, in a water depth of about 1,150 m. The Baleine field extends over blocks CI-101 and CI-802. In April, the FPSO Firenze – to be renamed Baleine upon its mooring – sailed away from Dubai to the Baleine field in Côte d’Ivoire. This FPSO has been refurbished and upgraded to increase its processing capacity up to 15,000 bbl/d of oil and around 25 mmcf/d of associated gas.
According to Eni, the start of production from the Baleine field marks the first emissions-free – Scope 1 and 2 – production project in Africa. This currently stands as the largest hydrocarbon discovery in the Ivorian sedimentary basin. The Italian player highlights that the fast time-to-market was made possible through its phased development approach characteristic of recent projects, along with the full collaboration of its partner, Petroci.
Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s CEO, commented: “The first oil from Baleine is a milestone in Eni’s operations. Stemming from an extraordinary exploration success, we have achieved an industry-leading time-to-market of under 2 years from the declaration of commercial discovery. This outcome expresses the core principles of our strategy, encompassing Africa’s pioneering net-zero project, accelerated development, local gas supply, and the promotion of a just transition.”
For the initial phase, the production takes place through the FPSO Baleine, capable of handling up to 15,000 bbl/d of oil and around 25 Mscf/d of associated gas. The start of Phase 2 is expected by the end of 2024 and will increase field production to 50,000 bbl/d of oil and approximately 70 Mscf/d of associated gas. The third development phase aims to elevate field production to 150,000 bbl/d of oil and 200 Mscf/d of gas.
Furthermore, Eni underlines that the entire gas production from the Baleine field in this development phase and the subsequent ones will be delivered onshore through a newly constructed pipeline, enabling the country to meet its domestic electricity market demands, facilitate energy access, and strengthen its role as a regional energy hub for neighbouring countries.
In addition, the project leverages the available technologies to minimise emissions with residual emissions offset through initiatives developed within the country, including supplying and distributing improved stoves to local communities, eliminating the need for wood or coal for cooking. The stove distribution programme, initiated in 2022, is expected to reach over one million people in the next 6 years. Simultaneously, the Italian giant has launched studies for nature-based solutions projects, covering 380,000 hectares of protected forests.
Eni’s presence in Côte d’Ivoire dates back to the 1960s with Agip Côte d’Ivoire. The Italian oil major re-entered the country in 2015 and currently holds interests in the CI-101 and CI-802 blocks – where the Baleine field extends – as well as in four other deep-water Ivorian blocks: CI-205, CI-501, CI-401, and CI-801, all with the same partner, Petroci Holding.
Eni is working on multiple projects in Africa. Earlier this month, the company handed out a rig conversion deal to Saipem for the conversion of the Scarabeo 5 semi-submersible drilling rig into an FPU, which is a semi-submersible production platform that receives the production fluids from wellheads riser platforms, separates the gas from liquids and boosts the gas to feed the nearby floating LNG (FLNG) unit.
The FPU deal is part of Eni’s Congo LNG project, the country’s first natural gas liquefaction project that is expected to reach an overall LNG production capacity of 3 million tons per year – approximately 4.5 billion cubic meters per year – from 2025.