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Ghana Begins Pumping Oil

Ghanaian President John Atta Mills (2nd R) turns a valve at FPSO Kwame Nkrumah oil rig at the Jubilee field in Takoradi, 15 Dec 2010

Ghana has joined the club of African oil-producing nations with the start of pumping at an offshore field.

President John Atta Mills symbolically opened the valves Wednesday in a ceremony broadcast live from an oil-storage vessel in the Gulf of Guinea.

The president said the oil should be a blessing and not a curse to Ghana.

In nearby Nigeria and other countries, oil has triggered corruption and internal conflict, while bringing little benefit to ordinary people.

Ghana is one of Africa's most stable countries, but analysts warn the government has not passed legislation to safeguard oil revenues.

Main operator, Britain Tullow oil, says it will initially pump about 55,000 barrels of oil per day. Production is expected to rise to about 120,000 barrels a day by the middle of next year

The Jubilee oil field was discovered in 2007, and holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

Commercial production began just three years after the oil was discovered.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.