Ivory Coast said Thursday it plans to boost oil drilling by year's end to become a major regional producer.
"We want to start drilling in seven wells by the end of the year to ensure a production of 300,000 barrels a day by 2020, up from 40,000 barrels now," Adama Toungara, the new oil minister, said during a meeting with press barons here.
"We want to make Ivory Coast a sub-regional oil power even though the country will not be an African Kuwait," he added.
He deplored the fact that oil drilling "dropped in intensity" under the rule of president Laurent Gbagbo, who was deposed after more than a decade in power and a bitter leadership struggle over disputed presidential polls last November.
Gbagbo was captured in an underground bunker in Abidjan on April 11 by forces loyal to Preisdent Alassane Ouattara, backed by France and the United Nations.
Toungara said the country awarded exploration permits to companies "which have neither the technical expertise nor the financial capacity to explore."
And he slammed the "bad governance" in the country's oil sector.
Out of 28 oil fields in the country, 23 are operated by firms from Canada, the United States, Italy, Russia, Ireland, Kuwait and Malaysia, according to official data.
Ivory Coast was until recently the leading oil producer in the eight-nation West African Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa, which excludes Nigeria, the top oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ghana's recent discovery of oil reserves off its coast last year sparked off a row with Ivory Coast over the border, with Accra accusing Abidjan of claiming part of its maritime space.