The Baleine oil and gas field is located off the coast of Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. (Credit: C Morrison from Pixabay)
The Baleine FPSO will be used for Phase I production. (Credit: Eni)
The Baleine field is estimated to hold up to 2.5 billion barrels of oil and 3.3 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of associated gas. (Credit: arbyreed/ Flickr)

The Baleine oil and gas project is one of the largest hydrocarbon findings in the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire. It is also the first commercial discovery in the country made since 2001.

The field lies in Block CI-101 and extends into Block CI-802, offshore Côte d’Ivoire. The Block CI-101 is operated by Italian energy company Eni with an 83% stake, while Ivorian state-owned national oil and gas company Petroci Holding owns the remaining 17% interest.

The final investment decision (FID) on the Baleine project was taken in December 2022. The project is planned to be developed in three phases.

Phase I production commenced in August 2023, while Phase II is expected to start operations by December 2024.

The development of Baleine field is expected to enhance Cote d’Ivoire’s position as a regional energy hub. Gas production from the field will boost domestic and regional supplies, while oil production will increase exports.

According to Eni, Baleine will be the first net-zero emission development (Scope 1 and 2) in Africa.

Baleine Field Site Details

The Baleine Field is located within the Deep Tano Basin in Block CI-101 and extends into Block CI-802 in the eastern waters of Cote d’Ivoire.

The Block CI-101 is located around 50km off the coast of Abidjan, at a water depth of between 200m and 2,500m.

Besides CI-101 and CI-802, Eni holds interests in CI-205, CI-501, CI-401, and CI-801 deep-water Ivorian blocks with the same partner Petroci.


The Baleine Field was discovered in September 2021 by drilling the Baleine-1x well in Block CI-101.

The well was drilled in 1,200m water depth with the Saipem 10,000 drill ship, around 60km from the shore. It reached a total depth of 3,445m and discovered light oil (40° API) in two different stratigraphic levels.

In July 2022, Eni drilled the first exploration well in Block CI-802.

The Baleine East 1X well, located about 5km east of the Baleine 1x well, was drilled using the Saipem 12000 drilling ship. It reached a total depth of 3,165m measured depth in a water depth of about 1,150m.

A test performed indicated that a production of 12,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil and 14 million standard cubic feet per day (Mscf/d) of associated gas can be achieved from the Baleine East 1X well.

Baleine Field Reserves

Following discovery, Baleine Field was estimated to contain between 1.5 and 2.0 billion barrels of oil in place and between 1.8 and 2.4 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of associated gas.

The positive results of the Baleine East 1X well increased the offshore field‘s reserves by around 25% to 2.5 billion barrels of oil and 3.3TCF of associated gas.

Baleine Project Development Details

In the first phase, three production wells were tied back to the Firenze floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

The Firenze FPSO was acquired by Eni from Saipem in December 2013.

The vessel underwent an upgrade to treat up to 15,000bbl/d of oil and around 25Mcfd/d of associated gas.

It set sail for the Baleine field in April 2023. Upon arrival, the FPSO was renamed as Baleine.

The oil from the FPSO will be transported via tankers, while the gas will be exported to the Abidjan plant via a dedicated gas pipeline.

The Phase II of the project is expected to start by the end of 2024, using a refurbished existing FPSO. The production level in the second phase is expected to increase to 50,000bbl/d of oil and approximately 70Mscf/d of associated gas.

In the third phase, the production will be further increased to 150,000 barrels of oil/day and 200 million cubic feet of gas/day.

The gas from the field will be used to meet domestic electricity market demands and for supplies to the regional market.

Contractors Involved

In September 2022, Saipem won two new contracts for the Baleine Phase 1 Project from the ENI Cote d’Ivoire-Petroci consortium. The two contracts have a combined value of approximately €1bn.

The first contract involves Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Installation (EPCI) services of the Subsea Umbilicals, Risers, and Flowlines (SURF) and an onshore gas pipeline for the connection to the distribution grid.

Saipem utilised its vessel FDS2 for the offshore laying of flexible lines, risers, and umbilicals.

The second contract entailed Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Commissioning (EPCC) activities related to the upgrading of the Firenze FPSO vessel and ten years of operations and maintenance services for the vessel.

Italy-based RINA carried out offshore geotechnical sampling and testing works to help in understanding the soil properties for the Baleine Project development.

Rental company Bezemer Group supported the installation of a gas pipeline through a micro tunnel with the 500tonne linear winch C1100.

In June 2023, energy technology company Baker Hughes secured a contract for the Baleine Phase II project. The scope of work includes the delivery of eight deepwater trees, three Aptara manifolds, a subsea production control system, flexible risers, and jumpers.