Tullow Oil, an Anglo-Irish firm, said in a statement that "first oil from the Jubilee field, offshore Ghana, is scheduled for 15 December 2010", calling it a "historic event". The production marks the start of commercial production for Ghana from a field holding one of the largest discoveries in West Africa in recent years.
Ghana's government had previously announced December 17 as the start of production and no explanation was given for the change in date.
"Immediately after first oil, the field will be capable of flowing up to 55,000 barrels of oil per day, but as new wells are completed over a three-to six-month period, production will increase to 120,000 barrels per day," the company said.
The Jubilee field, discovered in 2007 by US firm Kosmos, is estimated to contain some 1.6 billion barrels of crude, making it one of the largest finds in west Africa in recent years.
It has led to expectations that oil revenue will help the government in Ghana, viewed as among the region's most stable democracies, further to grow the economy and finance infrastructure.
But many have also warned of the corruption and mismanagement that have plagued oil-producing countries such as nearby Nigeria.