Rialto Energy said it has spud the Gazelle-P3 ST well on 12 March 2012 using the Transocean GSF Monitor jack-up drilling rig and the well is drilling ahead at 1,302m depth on 23 April with the next casing point at 1,538m depth.

Offering the weekly update on its drilling operations at the well, which is the first of an overall three well drilling program on CI-202 block offshore Côte d’Ivoire, the company said the stuck pipe was freed to a depth of 870m depth, a cement plug was set and a sidetrack started.

The drilling work is expected to take six months to complete, together with testing.

Rialto Energy expects to issue a further drilling report on its activities on 1 May 2012.

Rialto with 85% is the operator of the block whic contains the Gazelle Field, the current focus of development, with first production anticipated by the first quarter of 2014.

Rialto has commenced a three well drilling program in CI-202 on 12 March, 2012, backing on a report completed in September 2011 by RPS Energy Services which reported total mean contingent resources of 50 MMbbls of liquids and 396 Bcf of gas, in addition to total mean prospective resources of 511 MMbbls of liquids and 1,785 Bcf of gas.

The company has also won approval for its field development plan over the Gazelle Field located on Block CI-202 offshore Cote d’Ivoire and has executed a gas sales deal, which will be superseded by a final binding agreement with the Government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.