Until 1959, electric power generation was entirely thermal, using imported oil. Since then, however, substantial efforts have been undertaken to develop Côte d'Ivoire's hydroelectric potential, and by 2002, hydroelectricity supplied about 75% of electrical demand. The country's first hydroelectric plant opened in 1959 at Ayamé, on the Bia River, with a capacity of 19,200 kW; a second dam on the Bia was completed in 1964. The Kossou hydroelectric plant, on the Bandama River, began operations in the early 1970s. Subsequently, the government completed hydroelectric projects at Taabo, on the Bandama, and Buyo, on the Sassandra. In 1997, the Cinergy consortium won a 23-year concession to construct the country's third thermal power plant, outside Abidjan, at Azito. By the same year, Côte d'Ivoire was exporting electricity produced by its own gas-fired turbines at the CIPREL proejct at Vridi, near Abidjan. The final section of the CIPREL facility came online in March 1998. In 2001, the country's total installed electrical capacity was 892 MW; in 2000 electric power production reached 4.6 billion kWh, up from 18.3 million kWh in 1964. Of this total, 75.4% was from fossil fuels and 24.6% was from hydroelectric power. Consumption of electricity in 2000 was 2.6 billion kWh.
Offshore oil was discovered in 1977. Production began three years later; in 1983, Côte d'Ivoire approached self-sufficiency, with an output of over one million tons, but production was only 99,000 tons in 1991, as deposits proved smaller, more scattered, and in deeper water than expected. A 15% share in the first field to be developed, Bélier, about 25 km (16 mi) from Abidjan, was held by the Société Nationale d'Opérations Pétrolières de la Côte d'Ivoire (PETROCI), the state oil corporation. PETROCI held a 10% stake in the larger Espoir field off Jacqueville, about 50 km (31 mi) east of Abidjan, which was shut down in 1988. Petroleum production in Côte d'Ivoire then ceased in 1992 when the Bélier field was also abandoned. However, it resumed in 1995 when Ocean Energy, a subsidiary of the US-based United Meridian Corp. began production; total crude oil output was reported at 435,000 tons in 1995.
In 1996, Côte d'Ivoire became self-sufficient in petroleum, with the revitalization of petroleum and natural gas production and electricity generation. In 1998 PETROCI was restructured into four separate entities, a holding company and three companies responsible for, respectively, oil exploration and development, gas development, and oil refining and other services. Production was 12,000 barrels per day in 2001, when recoverable reserves were estimated at 100 million barrels.
Estimated gas reserves as of 2001 were 31.1 billion cu m (1.1 trillion cu ft), and gas consumption was expected to grow 50% over the coming four years. Natural gas production was forecast to average one million cu m (35 million cu ft) per day over 20 years. As of 2002, Côte d'Ivoire was on its way to becoming a natural gas exporter, having signed an agreement in 1999 to build a gas pipeline to Ghana.