* Says production from its Ghana field "almost certain"
* Wants to explore more oil opportunities in Ghana-VP
* LUKOIL-Ghana JV in exploration stage until 2011-2012
* Ghana to start producing oil at Jubilee field in Dec
By Ekaterina Golubkova
MOSCOW, Oct 7 Russia's No. 2 oil producer, LUKOIL (LKOH.MM) said its offshore oil exploration project in Ghana will almost certainly lead to commercial exploitation, the vice president of LUKOIL Overseas said Thursday.
LUKOIL leads an oil joint-venture with Vanco and Ghana's National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for exploration and production at the West African country's offshore Cape Three Points Deep Water.
The venture, established in 2006, finished one exploratory well in February and will continue analysing seismic data and drilling more exploratory wells until 2011-2012.
"We are almost certain that we will have commercial development," Dmitry Timoshenko said at a press conference in Moscow with Ghana's Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei.
"We will start drilling two more wells in May," said GNPC's head Nana Asafu-Adjaye.
Reserves at the field have not yet been determined, but Timoshenko said that for the operation to be profitable it would need between 150 and 250 million barrels of oil.
"Around 150-250 million barrels is a good number to begin development," he said, adding that LUKOIL Overseas, which has a 56.6 percent share in the venture, is interested in participating in other oil projects in Ghana.
"We will continue to look into practically any opportunity to participate in new projects in Ghana," Timoshenko said.
NEW AFRICAN OIL
Ghana will join the club of oil-producing nations this year when it starts producing its first offshore field, Jubilee, which the country says holds reserves of around 1.6 billion barrels.
"Production could reach 120,000 barrels of oil per day in phase one and that amount will double in phase two ... expected around 2014-2015," said Asafu-Adjaye said on the sidelines of the Moscow press conference.
Earlier, GNPC had said production would double to 250,000 bpd by 2013, squeezing Ghana into the list of the world's top 50 producers. [ID:nLDE67N12M]
Aside from the state-owned Ghanaian National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), major players in Jubilee include UK-listed operator Tullow Oil Plc (TLW.L), U.S.-producer Anadarko Petroleum (APC.N) and privately held U.S. energy firm Kosmos.
In August, Kosmos cancelled the sale of its 30.875 percent stake in the West Cape Three Points block and 18 percent share in the Deepwater Tano to ExxonMobil (XOM.N), a deal Ghana said was in breach of Kosmos' commitments.
Click here to read an analysis on Ghana's oil windfall. [ID:nLDE6820RW] (Reporting by Ekaterina Golubkova; Writing by Jessica Bachman; Editing by Alfred Kueppers)