UPDATE 1-Ghana national oil firm seeks $1 bln to become independent operator

Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:12pm EDT

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By Kwasi Kpodo

ACCRA, April 11 (Reuters) - Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is seeking $1 billion to fund its plan to become an independent operator in seven years and will also seek to build an oil trading desk with its partner Unipec, chief executive Alex Mould said.

"We think $1 billion is a good start and I think we'll get there. This $1 billion is going to be used for many things. We're looking for opportunities and the best is to go into exploration, do more appraisal work," Mould told Reuters.

GNPC is working with the government on funding and looking for "efficient capitalization", Mould said, but he gave no further details as to how the money would be raised.

Production from Ghana's main field Jubilee, operated by Tullow, is expected to hit 110,000 barrels per day in 2014.

Unipec, which already markets some of Ghana's oil, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China's Sinopec..

"We have an accelerated growth strategy to become an independent operator in seven years and a world class operator in 15 years," Mould said on Wednesday.

"GNPC's goal is that if we develop our capability we must as well start using our own resources in looking elsewhere outside Ghana for potential hydrocarbon resources that we can explore together with the countries involved," he said.

Few African oil producers market and trade their own crude because it involves significant technical challenges. The ones that do are well-established producers, said oil expert Valerie Marcel of the Chatham House think tank.

Ghana discovered oil offshore in 2007 and began producing in December 2010.

Mould said that Ghana, which also exports cocoa and gold, would have a sustained total crude output of above 200,000 barrels per day by late 2016 after the full development of Jubilee and the coming on stream of adjoining fields currently under exploration. (Additional reporting and writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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