Murphy Oil seeks Côte d’Ivoire drilling start in a year

June 24, 2024
‘We can do a deal with anyone in the world today,’ chief executive Roger Jenkins recently told a bank conference about the company’s promising offshore blocks.

The leaders of Murphy Oil Corp., Houston, hope to drill the company’s first well offshore Côte d’Ivoire in the summer of 2025, pending the completion of talks with government officials in the West African country.

Murphy last year signed production sharing contracts for operated contracts in five deepwater blocks in the Tano basin offshore Côte d’Ivoire (Offshore, Aug. 3, 2023). The blocks span about 1.5 million gross acres—one contains the Paon discovery appraised by teams of the former Anadarko Corp.—and Murphy owns 85-90% working interests in them. The company has committed to prepare a field development plan for that discovery by end-2025 but chief executive officer Roger Jenkins aims to beat that deadline by getting started roughly a year from now.

“We don’t have that sewed up yet,” Jenkins said at last week’s J.P. Morgan 2024 Energy, Power & Renewables Conference about Murphy’s timing goal. “We’ve got to get the seismic [data].”

Jenkins told the gathering that Murphy Oil has a team on the ground in Côte d’Ivoire to handle the talks and lean on the experience gathered by the operator's leadership during their work in Malaysia and Vietnam, among other places.

“They want to have gas in their country. We have to talk to them openly and frankly about the return we need for international deepwater development,” Jenkins told J.P. Morgan analyst Arun Jayaram. “There will be a deal to be made at some point. Like many things, it will take a few months to do the negotiation. We’re used to this. We’re good at it. They are, too.”

Murphy’s deepwater blocks sit between two fields discovered by Eni SpA, Rome, one of which is Baleine field that is estimated to hold 2.5 billion bbl of oil and more than 3 tcf of gas. Because of that, Jenkins said, interest from other industry players in taking part in the development of Murphy’s holdings is high.

“We can do a deal with anyone in the world today for those blocks,” he said. “The terms to farm into that can get very, very good over time […] It’ll be a hard call for us. I don’t know—maybe not that hard.”

Shares of Murphy (Ticker: MUR) closed June 21 at $39.51, nearly 3% higher than the previous Friday. Year to date, however, they are down about 7%, which has trimmed the company’s market capitalization to about $6 billion.

About the Author

Geert De Lombaerde | Senior Editor

A native of Belgium, Geert De Lombaerde has more than two decades of business journalism experience and writes about markets and economic trends for Endeavor Business Media publications Healthcare InnovationIndustryWeek, FleetOwner, Oil & Gas Journal and T&D World. With a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, he began his reporting career at the Business Courier in Cincinnati and later was managing editor and editor of the Nashville Business Journal. Most recently, he oversaw the online and print products of the Nashville Post and reported primarily on Middle Tennessee’s finance sector as well as many of its publicly traded companies.