Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Mauritania becomes Africa's newest oil producer

AP , NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA

The northwest African nation of Mauritania became Africa's newest oil producer on Friday, pumping crude from an offshore platform for the first time.

Production started at the Chinguetti oil field, 65km west of the capital, Nouakchott, in the Atlantic Ocean, said Aboubakr Ould Marouani, director of the state-run Mauritanian Hydrocarbon Company, which is charged with overseeing oil sales.

The desert nation is expected to produce 75,000 barrels daily for nine years from Chinguetti, which is operated by Woodside Energy of Australia.

Oil will bring a vital source of income to the Arab-dominated desert nation, whose 2.7 million inhabitants live on less than US$1 a day.

The country has remained stable despite a coup in August last year led by junta leader Ely Ould Mohamed Vall that toppled former president Maaouya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya.

Earlier this month, the government announced it was setting up a special state bank account to manage oil revenues in a bid to avert corruption and ensure transparency in the oil sector.

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