Angola, one of Africa's largest oil producers, to ask for OPEC membership, government says

Thursday, November 30th 2006, 7:46 am
By: News On 6

LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ Angola, Africa's largest sub-Saharan oil producer after Nigeria, will apply to join OPEC next month, the government said.

The government said in a statement late Wednesday the application stemmed from Angola's ``growing role in the world oil sector.''

Angola's crude production, most of it from offshore rigs operated by foreign companies, has climbed to around 1.4 million barrels a day but is expected to reach 2 million barrels a day by April next year. The southwest African country is China's largest supplier of crude.

Angola is currently an associate member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, allowing it to send representatives to the group's meetings.

In Vienna, OPEC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said he did not foresee any problems with Angola's application, noting it has been an observer for some time and attended OPEC conferences with that status.

Ibrahim said Gabon, in 1975, was the last country to join the organization, two years after Ecuador joined in 1973. However, both withdrew in the 1990s. Nigeria joined in 1971 and has been a member ever since.

OPEC currently has 11 member countries.