ACCRA Nov 25 (Reuters) – Ghana announced on Thursday it expected the first oil from its Jubilee offshore field to be pumped on Dec. 17, in line with earlier forecasts that it would take its place as a major oil producer by year-end.

“First oil is expected December 17 and the government and all the Jubilee partners are looking forward to this day,” Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told Reuters.

The field is operated by UK-listed Tullow Oil (TLW.L: Quote) and is estimated to hold up to 1.8 billion barrels with a lifespan of 20 years.

Tullow confirmed on Thursday production start-up was on target and that testing of machinery so far had been successful.

“We are ready to pump first oil any moment from the first week of December,” a senior Tullow manager told Reuters.

Tullow Chief Executive Aidan Heavey is curently in Ghana and has been visiting the project site ahead of the start-up.

Other companies partnering Tullow on the Jubilee project are Kosmos Energy, Anadarko (APC.N: Quote) and Ghana national Petroleum Company.

Production is expected to normalise at 120,000 barrels per day in the first phase and could ramp up to 250,000 barrels per day after three years.

However, the country’s parliament is yet to finish work on legislation spelling out how oil revenues would be used amid disagreement over the government’s proposal to use portions of the revenue as collateral for loans.

Last Tuesday deputies ended a heated debate on the so-called Petroleum Revenue Management Bill without any sign of agreement. However the government could still use its majority to ensure the bill gets through before production start-up.

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