KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan expects to increase its oil production by up to one-third by next year, taking it to as high as 600,000 barrels per day, the country's new oil minister said on Wednesday.
Lual Deng said current average output is now between 450,000 and 470,000 bpd from the two blends -- Nile and Dar.
"For next year, all things being equal, we expect between 500,000 and 600,000. We are aiming at 650,000" bpd.
By comparison, output in Nigeria, Africa's largest producer, averaged 2.2 million bpd in 2009.
Sudan has an estimated six billion barrels of oil reserves.
Deng was speaking at a government-sponsored seminar on transparency in Sudan's oil sector, and promised that the ministry would now start publishing figures on daily output on its website.
"It is the lack of transparency, or the perceived lack of transparency, that has fuelled mistrust between partners," he said. "We want to enhance trust between the north and south."
Last year, non-governmental organisation Global Witness warned that lack of transparency could destabilise the 2005 agreement that ended Sudan's civil war between north and south, which was based on an agreement to share oil revenues.
The south Sudanese are due to vote in January in a referendum on whether to remain part of Africa's largest country, or to become independent.
Deng also expressed confidence that French oil giant Total, which has a huge untapped concession in south Sudan, will be guaranteed to keep it after the referendum.
"They wanted assurances what would happen after the referendum and they have been assured that the contract will be respected," he said, without explaining how he could speak for a potential new sovereign government in the south.