CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Sudan’s oil production has reached 178,000 barrels per day (bpd), the oil ministry said on Wednesday, and the country aims for output to reach 200,000 bpd within the next two years.

“We are working on increasing the production of oil,” said Arkangelo Okwang Oler, director-general for planning, training and research at South Sudan’s oil ministry, speaking at an oil conference in Cape Town.

Long-term, South Sudan aims to ramp up production to 350,000 bpd, Oler added, without specifying a time frame.

That level was South Sudan’s peak production before 2012, when a five-year civil war brought the young country’s oil industry to a virtual standstill.

“I am optimistic that we are moving toward a stable government,” Oler said.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have agreed to form a transitional government by the middle of November, the information minister said last month.

South Sudan made a small oil discovery in Northern Upper Nile State in August, its first since independence in 2011. It is expected to launch an oil and gas licensing round at the conference on Thursday.

Reporting by Helen Reid and Wendell Roelf, Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter

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