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BP's Platina oil field comes online as Angola battles to fight output slump

Highlights

Platina will produce 30,000–40,000 b/d, connected to Greater Plutonio FPSO

Third new oil field to come online in past seven months after Cuica, Zinia Phase 2

Angolan production tumbled to 17-year low of 1.07 million b/d in July

BP has kick-started oil production from Angola's Platina deepwater field, providing some relief to the OPEC member, which is in the throes of an output slump.

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The Angolan ministry of mineral resources, oil and gas and BP held a ceremony Nov. 24 marking the start of production at this field, the ministry said Nov. 25.

The Platina field, expected to produce 30,000-40,000 b/d, is connected as a subsea tie-back to the Greater Plutonio FPSO in Block 18, from which the Plutonio grade is exported.

That is welcome news for Angola, which has been facing an uphill battle to reverse its crude oil output decline. This is the third new oil field, to come online in Angola in the past seven months, after Eni's 10,000 b/d Cuica and TotalEnergies' 40,000 b/d Zinia Phase 2 projects.

The ministry had previously said these recent startups could help stabilize its oil production at 1.30 million b/d over the next three years.

Angola, which used to be Africa's second largest oil producer until early 2021, has its seen output tumble to a 17-year lows. Crude output has recently averaged around 1.10 million b/d, as it has suffered from technical and operational problems at some fields, aggravated by a lack of upstream investment and incentives.

Upstream rebound

The Platina field, which contains reserves of around 44 million barrels of oil, began production 44 days earlier than scheduled.

The project, which comprises of four wells, will help increase the country's recoverable reserves, according to BP Angolan vice president Adriano Bastos.

"It remains a mark of pride for BP in Angola. After nine years, [we] have first oil from a new project, and this opens up other opportunities. We have other projects online, like the new production center where we will have the first oil around 2026," Bastos said.

"We hope that with this project, others will emerge and that we can have oil production [rebound] to the good of our country's economy," Angola's minister of mineral resources, oil and gas, Diamantino Azevedo said.

Drilling by BP at Angola's Platina oil field in Block 18 only resumed in November, after COVID-19 delayed the development.

Platina is the second project in Block 18 after the Greater Plutonio field began production in 2007.

BP is the operator of block 18 with a 46% interest, while Sonangol Sinopec International (SSI) holds the remaining 54%. BP is also the operator of Block 31 offshore Angola and has non-operated stakes in blocks 15, 17, 20, and 29. It also has non-operated interests in the New Gas Consortium and Angola LNG.

The coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on some of the country's exploration and drilling programs, as many oil companies have halted upstream work and reduced capital spending. But activity has picked slightly in the past year.

BP, Eni, ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies have all recently resumed exploration and drilling work in the West African country

The government is hoping to stabilize oil production at 1.3 million b/d over the next three years.

The country, which typically produces heavy but sweet crude, has traditionally been among the top suppliers to China. But key fields like Cabinda, Dalia, Girassol, Hungo, Kissanje, Pazflor and Plutonio have all declined and matured at the same time.