Cameroon oil production down 8 pct in Q1 2013

YAOUNDE Thu May 16, 2013 10:13am EDT

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YAOUNDE May 16 (Reuters) - Cameroon crude production dipped more than 8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013 due to technical problems in some of its oil fields, the central African country's National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH) said on Thursday.

Crude production fell to 5.31 million barrels in the first three months of the year compared with 5.78 million barrels in the same period of 2012, statistics from the state-run SNH showed.

"We faced some technical production difficulties during the first quarter," Simon Tamfu, head of the exploration department at SNH told Reuters.

"The problems have been dealt with ... and production is going on normally since the beginning of the second quarter. We expect higher production," Tamfu said.

Revenues from petroleum export are the Central African nation's leading foreign earner, accounting for about 45 percent of the hard currency flowing into its economy and 7 percent of gross domestic product.

Revenues rose nearly 42 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year to 138.42 billion CFA francs ($271.41 million). Tamfu said the increase was due to late payments received from Cameroon's oil partners.

Cameroon became a modest oil exporter in 1977, with output peaking at 185,000 barrels per day in 1986 before declining steadily over the years due to maturing fields.

Oil production in the country, which also produces cocoa and timber, stood at around 60,000 barrels a day in 2012, a 3.4 percent increase compared with the previous year.

Authorities have said oil output will be boosted by as much as 25 percent in the near-term as new wells operated by independent producer Perenco, and Addax Petroleum, a unit of Chinese state-owned Sinopec among others, come on line.

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