NEW YORK, March 13 (UPI) -- Offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the Middle East should increase 25 percent from their 2012 levels in four years, a research firm predicts.
Business intelligence firm GBI Research said it expects oil and gas drilling expenses in the Middle East and North Africa to increase from $13.56 billion in 2012 to slightly more than $17 billion in 2016.
"Drilling outlay is expected to grow across all major nations in the region, with those in West Africa leading in terms of exploration activity," the company said.
Their analysis says emerging interest in Sierra Leone and Liberia may drive some of that growth.
Ghana is emerging as a regional energy giant. British energy explorer Tullow Oil in December announced the start of production about 16,500 barrels of oil per day from Phase 1A of Ghana's offshore Jubilee field.
The CIA World Factbook estimates that Ghana has around 660 million barrels of proven oil reserves, ranking the country 45th in the world in terms of reserves.
The European Union has invested $582 million in energy programs in West Africa in the last five years.
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