French oil firm Total says it has opened an offshore field with a production capacity of 180,000 barrels a day off the coast of Nigeria.
Total said in a statement Friday that it has started production at its new deep-water Usan field about 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Nigeria’s south eastern coast.
It said Usan is the company’s second-largest offshore field in Nigeria after Akpo, with a crude storage capacity of 2 million barrels.
Foreign firms have pumped oil for more than 50 years out of Nigeria’s southern delta, a region of swamps, mangroves and creeks. However, relations with the communities on land are strained, growing interest for offshore developments.
Traders expect this to boost the nation’s oil exports to their highest level in four months in April with Africa’s top oil producer expected to sell around 1.96 million barrels per day in April in 70 full or part cargoes, up from 1.87 million barrels per day in 65 cargoes in March.
Total’s production in Nigeria stood at 290,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and a top exporter of crude to the U.S.