Ivory Coast and Ghana will try to draw their maritime border amicably before seeking international arbitration, Ivory Coast Interior Minister Desire Tagro said on Tuesday ahead of a two-day meeting with his Ghanaian counterparts.
Ivory Coast has for years sought to clarify the offshore border with its West African neighbour, but recently renewed its efforts by petitioning the United Nations after Ghana discovered huge oil reserves off its coast.
"It is our hope that the two countries can come out with an amicable solution, working in the same spirit that guided the demarcation of the land boundaries," Tagro told reporters ahead of the talks.
Both countries have submitted proposals on their sea boundary to the United Nations, which would be called upon to mediate if talks break down.
Tagro said Ghana's oil finds were not the main reason for Ivory Coast's renewed efforts to draw the border. "Let me state here that although the demarcation concerns natural resources, the delimitation is not about the oil fields," he said.
Ghana, the world's second-biggest producer of cocoa behind Ivory Coast, is set to become a commercial oil producer by the end of this year as production from the giant offshore Jubilee oilfield comes on line.
Late in February, Russian oil firm Lukoil announced a significant oil find offshore Ghana in a discovery that will add to the West African country's estimated 800 million barrels in reserves.
Ghana's Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Collins Dauda said a clear maritime boundary would help to prevent disputes over rights to offshore resources.
"Boundaries create certainty and this certainty is vital to Ghana's and Ivory Coast's national interests," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 27 Nisan 2010, 20:55