The Ivory Coast government has finalised exploration deals with US independent Murphy Oil and state-owned oil company Petroci covering several promising offshore blocks.

The Yamoussoukro-based authorities are also locked in talks with at least one group of investors interested in the country's onshore acreage, while Petroci has secured an extension to continue production from two offshore gas fields.

Ivory Coast gas had been something of an exploration backwater until Eni’s recent discovery of 2 billions barrels of oil and 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in its Baleine field, which is being fast-tracked to first oil this year.