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asqert34KHARTOUM: Sudan has managed to boost oil production to almost 140,000 barrels per day and plans to add another 10,000 bpd next year, its oil minister said on Saturday after the African country launched a new oilfield.


Sudan has been stepping up oil and gas exploration after losing three-quarters of its former output, or 350,000 bpd, when South Sudan seceded last year.


The loss of oil revenue, the main source of state income and the hard currency needed to fund imports, has thrown the economy into turmoil.


"Our current production is between 136,000 and 140,000," Awad al-Jaz told reporters, adding that new discoveries had been made. Sudan last put its output in October at 120,000 bpd.


Chinese-owned Petro Energy E&P recently launched production at the Hadida oilfield in western Sudan with a daily output of 10,000 bpd.


For next year, Sudan plans to reach 150,000 bpd, Jaz said. "This is our budget (plan)," he said.


Initially Sudan had planned 180,000 bpd by the end of this year but missed the target after fighting with South Sudan in April damaged the key Heglig oilfield and its central processing plant on the Sudan side of their disputed border.


In July, Sudan signed oil exploration and production-sharing deals with Canadian company Statesman Resources Ltd as well as with Chinese, Nigerian, Australian, Brazilian and French companies.


Jaz said Sudan wanted to boost oil cooperation with Brazilian firms, especially to explore for oil and gas in the Red Sea.


Norway is helping Sudan improve its pumping recovery rate, but analysts are skeptical about any big output jump soon because new fields need first to be explored. A scarcity of the dollars is hampering efforts to bring in better equipment.


The minister also said South Sudan's oil exports could resume once both sides reach an agreement on border security.


"There is no problem," he said, when asked whether from a technical point of view exports could flow.


South Sudan, which has no export pipelines or access to the sea, needs to export its oil through Sudan. It shut down its output of 350,000 in January after failing to agree with Sudan on fees.


In September both countries agreed to resume oil exports, but they have failed so far to set up a demilitarized zone at the disputed border, a condition for crude flows.


Center>Copyright Reuters, 2012

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