KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan plans to increase oil production to 180,000 barrels a day by the end of the year due to new finds and using more efficient technology to improve the recovery rate, a senior official said on Sunday.
Sudan lost two thirds of the around 490,000 barrels a day of oil production when South Sudan became independent in July under a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war.
The African country is now looking to boost oil production and expand mineral exports to overcome a severe economic crisis. In 2010, it made $5 billion from oil revenues it needs to replace in the budget.
Sudan's current production is 115,000 barrels per day (bpd) which is only serving domestic consumption, said Azhari Abdalla, director general of the Oil Exploration and Production Administration (OEPA).
"Production before the end of 2012 will be 180,000 barrels per day," he said. "This is from existing fields, existing blocks."
He said Sudan planned to improve the recovery rate to 47 percent from currently only 23 percent as more efficient technologies would applied.
The increase would mainly come from Block 6 adding 40,000 bpd, while Blocks 2 and 4 would add 15,000 bpd and Block 17 around 10,000 bpd, he said.
Production would be also driven from a new discovery in Block 17 in addition to recent finds in Block 6.
Output would be stable at 180,000 bpd until 2016 after which Sudan wanted to increase production to 320,000 bpd, he said.
"This is from existing fields," Abdalla said.
Sudan would not get back to exporting oil until 2017 though it would produce from next year a small surplus not needed for domestic consumption, he said.
The oil ministry launched on Sunday bidding for six new oil and gas blocks listed as Blocks 8, 10, 12B, 14, 15, 18. They mainly cover north and west Sudan, the Red Sea coast and also Blue Nile state, scene of an insurgency.
Some analysts have been skeptical that major new oil finds will be made in Sudan.
Mainly Chinese, Indian and Malaysian companies operate in Sudan.
The country is in the middle of a row with the land-locked South Sudan over sharing southern oil which needs to be exported through a northern pipeline and port.
Both sides have failed to reach a deal on a transit fee. South Sudan has accused the north of blocking the loading of its oil shipments at Port Sudan. Khartoum itself has accused the South of having failed to clear port duties.
Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Greg Mahlich