Vietnam begins operating new oil field

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has opened a new oil field that will boost national crude oil output by 21 percent by the end of this year, officials said.

Four wells from the Golden Lion oil field off Vietnam’s southern coast are now producing 60,000 barrels per day, Vu Ngoc An, general manager of Cuu Long Joint Operating Company said Wednesday. The output will reach at least 65,000 barrels per day when two other wells begin operating by the end of this year, he said.

The company has also discovered oil in two other fields, where it plans to start production in 2010 and 2013, he said.

“We were fortunate to find not just one, but four oil fields,” An told reporters “Before us, some companies had already explored in the area, but they did not find anything.”

Cuu Long’s owners include PetroVietnam, which controls 50 percent , and U.S.-based ConocoPhillips, which owns 23.25 percent. It has invested over $1 billion in the Golden Lion field, An said.

The company also operates the nearby Black Lion oil field, which started production five years ago and produces 55,000 barrels per day.

Last year, Vietnam produced 16 million tons of crude oil, or 307,000 barrels per day. It hopes to produce 17 million tons next year.

The country currently exports all its crude oil. Its first refinery is slated to open early next year.

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