Italian energy major Eni and its partner Petroci have made a major oil discovery on the Baleine prospect located in block CI-101 offshore Ivory Coast.

The partners identified light oil (40° API) at the discovery well Baleine-1x, in two different stratigraphic levels during drilling.

Situated 60km off the coast, the well has been drilled using the Saipem 10,000 drillship to a total depth of 3,445m.

The firms proved the presence of light oil-bearing intervals of Santonian and Cenomanian / Albian age by undertaking intelligent wireline formation testing and fluid sampling.

Eni said it identified discrete to good reservoir characteristics at the lower Cenomanian / Albian level and has completed the production test.

Based on preliminarily estimates, the new discovery potentially holds between 1.5 and two billion barrels of oil in place and between 1.8 and 2.4 trillion cubic feet of associated gas.

The partners will now undertake an evaluation programme to estimate the overall structure’s significant upside potential that extends into Eni-operated block CI-802.

Eni said in a press statement: “After more than 20 years of industry exploration in the country’s deep waters with no commercial discoveries since the last hydrocarbon discovery in 2001, the Baleine-1x well has successfully tested in block CI-101 a new play concept in the sedimentary basin in Ivory Coast.”

The Italian firm operates a block located in the eastern part of the prolific Tano basin, with a 90% stake. The remaining 10% interest is held by state-owned company Petroci Holding.

Eni also owns participating stakes in other Ivorian deepwater blocks, namely CI-205, CI-501, CI-504 and CI-802.