Equatorial Guinea seeks steady oil output of 500,000 barrels per day but not necessarily membership in OPEC, the African nation's oil minister Owono Edu Marcelino said Friday.
We will produce 500,000 barrels per day, equivalent oil and gas, for five years, Marcelino told Reuters through a translator. Then we will see what is discovered.
Even if production reaches the 1 million barrels per day required for membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it is not certain that Equatorial Guinea would apply to join, Marcelino said.
For the moment, it is not in our projections, he said. There are some advantages and some disadvantages. We will analyze and decide appropriate action, he said.
The oil minister and Foreign Minister Micha Ondo Bile spoke to Reuters at ceremonies to open a consulate general in Houston, the nation's first diplomatic mission outside Washington and New York, a spokesman said.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo spoke briefly at the ceremonies, helped cut the ribbon and toured the facilities in an office building, then left without speaking to reporters.
At a closed event at Rice University earlier Friday, the president called for greater partnership with the United States in the areas of energy, security and investment in both countries, a news release said.
Hydrocarbons are the engine of economic growth for my country, the president said at Rice. Oil income is used for public investment in the basic infrastructure of our country. We are committed to building an improved country.
The foreign minister told Reuters that reports of corruption in Equatorial Guinea have been exaggerated, and a spokesman said steps have been taken to root out graft.
Oil company representatives in attendance from Hess Corp and Marathon Oil Co said they had had no problems doing business in Equatorial Guinea and looked forward to partnering in the development of the country.
Oil industry activities in Equatorial Guinea date from about 1990 but have grown rapidly in recent years, with discovery of several oil fields and construction of a natural gas liquefaction facility, officials said.
(Editing by Christian Wiessner)