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Angola's Xicomba Crude Exports Dry Up

Source: Reuters 3/17/2011, Location: Africa

Africa's second largest oil producer Angola has stopped exports from its Xicomba offshore oilfield because it is no longer producing enough to fill a cargo, trade sources told Reuters.

Exports of the light, sweet grade -- named after a form of Angolan music and dance -- started in 2003 and have dwindled from a peak of around 80,000 barrels per day, equal to around 2 million barrels a month.

In the past year, the field has typically produced one cargo for export a month or around 30,000 bpd, Reuters data based on loading programmes showed.

Operator and main producer Exxon Mobil with a 40 percent stake in the field declined to comment.

"The March cargo was the last one ever. It's the end of the field life," said a West African crude trader with a firm that regularly buys Angolan oil.

No cargoes were listed in provisional Angolan April and May oil loading programmes seen by Reuters.

BP and Statoil are also partners in the project.

Angola briefly overtook Nigeria as the continent's top oil producer in 2009, but since then relative stability in the Niger Delta and new offshore production from deepwater projects has again reversed the ranking.

In April, Angola was originally scheduled to export 1.50 million bpd of oil compared with Nigeria's 2.06 million bpd.

But the gap between the two majors will likely halve later this year with the start of Total's Angolan offshore field, set to produce 220,000 bpd.

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