Ghana, Ivory Coast in war of words over oil

29 October 2011, Sweetcrude, Abidjan – Oil and gas authorities in the Ivory Coast have appealed for oil companies to stop drilling into its waters from neighbouring Ghana in a war of words over offshore territory between the two states.

The dispute has already been raised with the UN Continental Shelf Commission without a conclusive result, and indications are that a negotiated resolution could be the only way to end the dispute without costly arbitration.

“The state of Ivory Coast, which has continually denounced these operations, again appeals for this (drilling) to end, because the resources being exploited are our exclusive property”, the country’s directorate-general of hydrocarbons said in a statement.

The Abidjan-based authority has released a new map delineating three offshore blocks to the far east of its sedimentary basin, declaring that “every company who wishes to operate any kind of petroleum-related activity in this zone must apply for permission”.

It said the indicated blocks CI540 to CI544, totalling 5526 square kilometres, were within its territory.

Companies already operating in the indicated area without authorisation should halt operations immediately, the directorate said, “because their actions consist of assault amounting to theft and looting of raw materials”.

The Ivorian government has recently instituted plans to expand oil and gas exploration after President Allasane Outtara replaced Laurent Gbagbo earlier this year following a bloody standoff in the wake of October 2010 elections.

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