Ivory Coast in Row with Ghana over Oil-Rich Offshore Region

ACCRA, Ghana (AFP), Mar. 5, 2010

The discovery of oil reserves off the coast of Ghana has kicked off a row with Ivory Coast, which is claiming part of its neighbor's maritime area, a Ghanian minister said Friday.

The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation announced last month the discovery of an "extensive deepwater petroleum province" offshore Ghana.

The Dzata 1 find by Russia's oil giant OAO Lukoil Holdings (LKOH.RS) and its partner, Houston-based Vanco Energy, is about 100 kilometers away from the Jubilee oil fields, where significant hydrocarbons have also been found.

Ivory Coast is now laying claim to part of Ghana's maritime space, Ghana's Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda said on independent radio station Citi FM.

The maritime border in the Gulf of Guinea was never formally demarcated, but for years the neighbors had respected "a median line" between them, he said.

But Ivory Coast had written to Ghana complaining it is violating this informal boundary.

"All of a sudden, with the oil find, Ivory Coast is making a claim that is disrespecting this median line we have all respected," Dauda said.

The minister confirmed his statements to AFP but refused to comment further.

He said on radio that parliament was expected to quickly discuss a bill that would establish a commission to negotiate Ghana's maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast.

"We have not been able, as a country, to determine our boundary with Ivory Coast and there is the need for us now to determine the maritime boundary between Ghana and Ivory Coast," he said.

Ivory Coast had also written to the United Nations laying claim to portions of Ghana's oil find, said Dauda.

The Jubilee field is one of the largest oil finds in West Africa in the past decade. The first barrels of crude from the field are expected to come onstream in the last quarter of this year.

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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