March 16 (UPI) -- Production has started in an area that revealed more than 3 billion barrels of oil in place off the coast of Angola, Italian energy company Eni said.
Eni and Angolan energy company Sonangol said Friday that production started at their joint deepwater Ochigufu project in Angola, which would add another 25,000 barrels to current levels.
"This start-up, achieved one and a half year from presentation of the plan of development, is the first for Eni in 2018 as well as the first start-up of the year in Angola," the Italian company said in a statement. "It represents a further step in the development of the prolific Block 15/06, where Eni discovered over 3 billion barrels of oil in place and 850 million barrels of reserves."
The new start up comes roughly a year after Eni operations began at the East Hub project in deep Angolan waters using an offshore floating production vessel capable of generating up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day.
Angola is one of the lesser producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, accounting for less than 1 percent of the total output from the group. Oil supports about 45 percent of the nation's economy and nearly all of its exports.
Angola, under the terms of a managed decline agreement from OPEC, committed to cut about 78,000 barrels per day from production.
OPEC economists said total crude oil production from all 14 member states averaged 32.19 million barrels in February, a slight decline that was offset somewhat by gains in Angola and Nigeria. Angola averaged 1.6 million barrels per day in February, a 1 percent increase from the previous month.