Angola's Oil Minister Seeks Exemptions from OPEC Quotas

LUANDA, Angola (AFP), Jul. 20, 2009

Angola should get special treatment within OPEC, the organization's president and Angolan oil minister told reporters Friday, comparing his country to Iraq's post-war reconstruction.

Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos was referring to Angola's continuing violation of output quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, saying his country needed a higher production level to fund its own post-war reconstruction.

"We lived through nearly 30 years of war and our cities are undergoing reconstruction, he said at a trade fair in Luanda. "We are trying to get from the organization some understanding relative to this situation."

OPEC's reduced quotas, combined with lower oil prices, have hit Angola hard as it relies on oil for more than 90% of its income.

Botelho de Vasconcelos made reference to Iraq and its history of conflict which have earned it an exemption from OPEC quotas, and argued that Angola needs to keep producing to capacity in order to pursue its development.

Botelho de Vasconcelos' acknowledgment of Angola's violation of OPEC levels comes after Economy Minister Manuel Nunes Junior pledged that the country would stick to OPEC targets.

In 2008, Angola briefly overtook Nigeria as Africa's largest oil producer when it pumped more than a million barrels of oil a day.

Its OPEC quota is reported to be 1.517 million barrels a day -- although Angola has said it believes it is 1.656 million barrels a day. According to industry reports, production was close to 1.8 million barrels a day in June.

Angola's civil war ended in 2002. It joined OPEC in 2007 and took over the presidency in January this year.  

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