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Congo-Republic oil output seen at 310 000 bbl/d by end '09

Congo-Republic's oil production will reach 310 000 bbl/d by the end of 2009, up from current levels around 250 000 bbl/d, the local head of Total, a major investor in the country, said.

The French energy major produces between 60% and 70% of the oil coming from Africa's fifth largest producer, which has been looking to diversify its economy as oil output tails off from a peak around 300,000 bpd in the late 1990s.

"By the end of this year, Congo will be producing between 300 000 [bl/d] and 310 000 [bl/d]," Jacques Azibert, Total's managing director in Congo, told journalists after meeting the country's economy minister on Friday.

"The remarkable thing is that it is quite some time since Congo was at this level," Azibert added.

The jump in production will come from an increase in output at Total's Moho-Bilondo offshore field, which came on line last year, now produces 90,000 bpd but is expected to increase to 100 000 bl/d to 110 000 bl/d. Several other fields are also due to ramp up output.

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who has been in and out of power since a 1979 coup, won a poll in July to secure himself another seven years running the central African nation.

Sassou-Nguesso has said his country must look at moving away from an oil-dependent economy and last month secured a multi-million hectare land deal with South African farmers.

However, Azibert said Total was continuing deep-water exploration in Congo's north and looked forward to securing a win-win deal with the government.

Edited by: Reuters
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