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Saudi Aramco Starts Pumping From Manifa Oil Field Ahead of Plan

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. started producing crude from Manifa, the world’s fifth-largest oil field, on April 10, three months ahead schedule.

Saudi Aramco, as the state-owned producer is known, said today the field will produce 500,000 barrels a day of Arabian heavy crude by July and it will reach 900,000 barrels a day by end of next year.

Crude supply from the $17-billion Manifa project will help the company to maintain its maximum production capacity of 12 million barrels day, without raising output beyond that level, Aramco said in an e-mailed statement.

Manifa is the last of the so-called giant oil field discoveries in Saudi Arabia to begin operations. Its output will feed the Satorp refinery and two other facilities currently under construction, Jazan and Yasref. The International Energy Agency forecast in July that capacity in the kingdom, the world’s biggest crude exporter, will fall this year before rebounding in 2014 once Manifa starts production.

Aramco will invest more than $35 billion in exploration and development in the next five years to keep its oil production portfolio robust, Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al-Falih said in a speech posted on the company’s website in September.

The Satorp refinery in Jubail, a joint venture with France’s Total SA, will take its first crude next month, Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said April 11 in Paris. Yasref in Yanbu, which Aramco is building with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, and Jazan will each be able to process 400,000 barrels a day of crude.

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