Nigeria To Boost Production Output

Oil companies in Nigeria have said the are preparing to increase production after OPEC's agreement to raise the output ceiling to hold off a global price shock. Oil companies in Nigeria have been complaining for months about OPEC production curbs, which came after major investments had been made in Nigerian oilfields.

Shell said it expected to add output from its new EA oilfield following OPEC's decision on Sunday to raise quotas for its 10 members. "We have extra capacity from a number of oil wells not yet put into operation," Shell Nigeria spokesman Don Boham said. "The EA is a new offshore project which we started slowly, but which we intend to prime up," he said. But being a new well, it could take a few months for oil to flow significantly from there, he added. Shell said the shallow water EA came on stream last month but was only producing at a fraction of its capacity of about 140,000 barrels per day (bpd). The company, which accounts for almost half of Nigeria's crude production, saw its output fall in the first half of 2002 to an average of around 660,000 bpd due to Nigeria's stringent OPEC compliance.

Other fields due to come on stream in Nigeria this year include two in the country's deepwater areas. Agip is expected to tap first oil from its Abo deepwater field next month while TotalFinaElf should start production from its 125,000 bpd Amenam field around June.

The NNPC will assign new output figures to its foreign joint venture partners over the next few days based on its assessment of their capacities, oil company officials said. Although production capacities of the oil companies are monitored by NAPIMS, NNPC's investment arm, industry sources say higher quotas are still subject to intense lobbying at the state company's headquarters in Abuja.