VIENNA Dec 12 Angola, Africa's second-largest oil producer, will raise its oil output slightly next year, although it is unlikely to reach a target of 2 million barrels per day (bpd), the country's oil minister said on Wednesday.
Jose de Vasconcelos also told reporters on the sidelines of an OPEC meeting in Vienna that Angola LNG would start exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first quarter of 2013, later than expected.
"Maybe 1.8 million to 1.85 million bpd," Vasconcelos said. "We have some operational problems, maintenance. To achieve 2 million we need to work more and more. I don't believe we'll achieve this target next year."
Angola briefly rivaled Nigeria, a fellow OPEC member and Africa's top producer, in oil exports three years ago, but its shipments have since fallen back due to the natural decline of some oilfields and maintenance work.
The country produced 1.70 million bpd of crude in November, according to a Reuters survey.
Angola LNG is set to export its first cargo in the first quarter, the minister said, later than planned.
"The new installation - we need to adjust some equipment and so on, but I think in the next quarter we will do the first cargo," he said.
The 5.2 million tonnes per annum Angola LNG project is led by Angola's state-owned oil company, Sonangol, which has a 22.8 percent stake and Chevron, which holds 36.4 percent. Eni , Total and BP each hold a stake of 13.6 percent.
The plant, built in Soyo in northern Angola at an estimated cost of $10 billion, was initially set to start exporting in the first quarter.
Angola LNG plans to turn its focus away from U.S. buyers occurs in the wake of a rapid increase in U.S. shale gas production brought about by new drilling and extraction technologies.
"We have another market now - the Asian market, the European market is the alternative to the United States. We are working with them," the minister said.