Angolan oil production capacity reaches 2.1 mm bpd

Mar 19, 2009 01:00 AM

Angola's oil production capacity has topped 2 mm bpd, according to the country's top oil official, though the country is respecting OPEC-mandated reduction quotas set earlier this year.
Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said earlier at a meeting in Vienna of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that Angola is capable of producing 2.1 mm bpd, the highest rate ever for the country's fledgling oil industry. However, output was intentionally scaled back to 1.656 mm bpd to meet the OPEC reduction requirements aimed at raising flagging oil prices worldwide, said Vasconcelos, who is also the acting OPEC president.

The required OPEC-mandated reduction places Angola behind Nigeria -- which produces an estimated 1.88 mm bpd -- among Africa's top oil producers. For a short time, Angola topped long-time leader Nigeria amid a production boom for the southern African nation attributed to the development of new projects in 2008 and the relative peace enjoyed by a country formerly wracked by decades of civil war.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's continuing decline in oil production has been blamed on violence perpetuated by militant groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. The delta is home to the vast majority of Nigeria's oil production; however, its residents remain mired in abject poverty.

The country that once dominated oil production in Africa has pumped more than $ 300 bn worth of crude over the last three decades from the southern delta states, according to estimates.
Nigeria's high unemployment in the delta, environmental degradation due to oil and gas extraction, and a lack of basic resources such as fresh water and electricity have angered the region's youth, who have taken up arms, many times supplied by political leaders, and formed militant groups and local gangs.

Though Angola's emergence as a regional oil contender is undeniable, some experts warned against just yet anointing it Africa's new petroleum titan.
"Angola is certainly a big upcoming producer," Africa oil expert John Ghazvinian, author of "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil," told. "Although monthly (production) figures can fluctuate," he added, noting that the return to even partial capacity of a few facilities in the delta would return Nigeria to the top spot among petroleum producers in Africa. Angola and Nigeria are clearly the two titans of the sub-Saharan oil world," Ghazvinian said.

The oil author did note that while oil production in the delta and at offshore platforms has been interrupted numerous times since the emergence of MEND three years ago, not to mention decades prior by the armed group's predecessors, Angola's petroleum sector has remained relatively free from violent disruptions.
That's not to say Angola hasn't had its own share of difficulties with armed groups vying for its country's oil wealth. Cabinda province, home to more than half of Angola's oil, has been the scene of violence blamed on the separatist group known as the Frontfor the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).

In October 2008 Angola's army claimed a decisive victory over FLEC and ramped up security in Cabinda in an effort to protect oil interests in a region responsible for half the country's petroleum output.
Still, many Cabindan separatists and members of FLEC who fled the province have returned and remain discontented with the Angolan government for not using enough of the country's oil revenue toward development.

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