Sudan's oil production rises to almost 140,000 bpd -minister

KHARTOUM, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Sudan has managed to boost oil

production to almost 140,000 barrels per day and plans to add

another 10,000 bpd next year, its oil minister said on Saturday

after the African country launched a new oilfield.

Sudan has been stepping up oil and gas exploration after

losing three-quarters of its former output, or 350,000 bpd, when

South Sudan seceded last year. The loss of oil revenue, the main

source of state income and the hard currency needed to fund

imports, has thrown the economy into turmoil.

"Our current production is between 136,000 and 140,000,"

Awad al-Jaz told reporters, adding that new discoveries had been

made. Sudan last put its output in October at 120,000 bpd.

Chinese-owned Petro Energy E&P recently launched production

at the Hadida oilfield in western Sudan with a daily output of

10,000 bpd.

For next year, Sudan plans to reach 150,000 bpd, Jaz said.

"This is our budget (plan)," he said.

Initially Sudan had planned 180,000 bpd by the end of this

year but missed the target after fighting with South Sudan in

April damaged the key Heglig oilfield and its central processing

plant on the Sudan side of their disputed border.

In July, Sudan signed oil exploration and production-sharing

deals with Canadian company Statesman Resources Ltd as

well as with Chinese, Nigerian, Australian, Brazilian and French

companies.

Jaz said Sudan wanted to boost oil cooperation with

Brazilian firms, especially to explore for oil and gas in the

Red Sea.

Norway is helping Sudan improve its pumping recovery rate,

but analysts are skeptical about any big output jump soon

because new fields need first to be explored. A scarcity of the

dollars is hampering efforts to bring in better equipment.

The minister also said South Sudan's oil exports could

resume once both sides reach an agreement on border security.

"There is no problem," he said, when asked whether from a

technical point of view exports could flow.

South Sudan, which has no export pipelines or access to the

sea, needs to export its oil through Sudan. It shut down its

output of 350,000 in January after failing to agree with Sudan

on fees.

In September both countries agreed to resume oil exports,

but they have failed so far to set up a demilitarized zone at

the disputed border, a condition for crude flows.

(editing by Jane Baird)

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