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Angola boosts fuel production with refinery expansion

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Oil-rich Angola on Thursday unveiled a new production unit that will increase fourfold the output at its sole refinery as it seeks to reduce dependency on fuel imports.

The new plant will bump up Angola’s fuel production to 1,580,000 litres a day, contributing to a 15 percent reduction in annual imports, according to state oil company Sonangol.

That would save the country some $300 million a year, oil and gas minister Diamantino Azevedo told a press briefing.

The new facility comes on stream as oil and gas prices soar across the world following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We are satisfied with this achievement,” President Joao Lourenco said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the capital of Luanda.

The country has plans to build three more refineries in the coming years.

“Producing fuel in large quantities will allow us to earn well … (and) no longer spend on imports,” Lourenco said.

Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil exporter after Nigeria but, according to government figures, it produces only about 20 percent of the refined products it needs.

Built with support from Italian energy giant Eni, the new Luanda facility is one of several multimillion-dollar projects initiated by Lourenco, who is seeking re-election in August.

“It’s good that the Lourenco administration has this ready ahead of the elections, as it can show it off internationally and locally as one its successes,” Marisa Lourenco, an analyst at consultancy Control Risks, told AFP.

Many of Angola’s nearly 33 million people live in poverty, as little of the profits from its oil riches has trickled down to the poorest.

Lourenco came to power in 2017 promising to tackle rampant corruption that took root under his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos.