Production Commences at Sable Field Offshore South Africa

Production has commenced from the Sable Field which is located approximately 95 kilometers off the southern coast of South Africa. Initial output is anticipated to be between 30,000 to 40,000 barrels per day, enough to reduce the country's oil imports by 7 percent. "The Sable oil field is expected to produce 20-25 million barrels of oil in the next three years," said the South African Department of Minerals and Energy said in a statement.

At least 40 percent of the country's liquid fuels are supplied by oil-from-coal producer Sasol and PetroSA through its gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Mossel Bay, a coastal town 400 kilometers west of Cape Town.

The oil from Sable will be processed on a floating, production, storage and offloading vessel anchored offshore. Oil will be transferred to a shuttle tanker every three weeks, which will then sail to the ports at Saldanha Bay on the west coast, Durban or Cape Town for refining for sale to the South African market.

"A significant step has been taken by PetroSA towards realizing stability as far as crude oil supplies are concerned for all South Africans," said Mpumelelo Tshume, PetroSA Chief Executive in a statement.

PetroSA was formed in January 2002 through the merger of the government's commercial assets in the gas and petroleum industry. These include GTL producer Mossgas and Soekor, an oil and gas exploration and production company.

The Sable Field is operated by PetroSA with a 60% stake and its partner is Pioneer Natural Resources with the remaining 40% stake.