Eni plans to invest $10bn (€9.16bn) to develop the Baleine field offshore Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), reported Reuters, citing Energy Minister Mamadou Sangafowa.

The Italian energy company will make the investment in three phases between 2023 and 2027.

Located off the east coast of the West African nation, Baleine field is estimated to have certified reserves of 2.5 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The energy minister stated that by 2027, the field would produce 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bopd), up from 30,000bopd in 2023.

“With a total investment estimated at $10bn, the Baleine project will have a lasting impact on our economy,” Sangafowa added.

Eni discovered the field in 2021 and began production in August of this year.

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Ivory Coast Government-owned company Petroci is Eni’s partner on the project, which is reputed to be the first emissions-free (scope 1 and 2) project in Africa.

The announcement comes after Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi met in Abidjan to celebrate the start of production from the Baleine field and to assess Eni’s operations in the nation.

By 2027, the field is expected to enable Ivory Coast to produce 200 million cubic feet of natural gas annually, reducing the country’s dependence on gas imports.

Eni has operated in Ivory Coast since 2015.

Along with the Baleine field’s blocks CI-101 and CI-802, Eni has stakes in four other Ivorian deepwater blocks – CI-205, CI-504, CI-401 and CI-801 – with Petroci as a partner.

Earlier this week, Eni halted arbitration proceedings over the OPL 245 oilfield with the Nigerian Government.

In September, the Italian oil and gas company agreed to sell its wholly owned subsidiary, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, to Nigeria-based Oando.