Minister: Algeria to double gas production in 10 years

Algeria is the third largest supplier of natural gas to Europe after Russia and Norway

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Algeria plans to double natural gas production and hike oil output by 50 percent within 10 years helped by major exploration success in 2013, Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said Thursday.

His comments come exactly one year after a bloody assault by armed Islamists at the In Amenas desert gas plant, one of the country's main upstream facilities, and amid steady decline in Algerian gas production since it peaked in 2005.

“Algeria plans very seriously to double its gas production,” Yousfi told national radio, adding that shale gas would contribute to the ambitious production plan.

He put Algeria's recoverable reserves at between 25 and 30 trillion cubic feet.

The minister described drilling results in 2013 as “extremely satisfying,” saying the OPEC country had discovered 550 million tonnes (4 billion barrels) of oil equivalent from 32 new oil and gas finds, three times the number discovered in 2012.

“We are going to see how much we can extract,” he said, but added that the new finds would also allow the country to raise oil production by 50 percent in the coming decade, from 1.2 million barrels per day now.

Algeria is the third largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, after Russia and Norway, although production at many of its older fields is in decline.

The country relies on foreign firms to maintain production levels at those fields.

But the In Amenas attack last year, in which 38 hostages were killed, has raised questions about the willingness of foreign companies to operate in the North African country.

Its oil and gas sector has also been hit by a number of corruption scandals linked to the state-run energy firm Sonatrach, and by lengthy delays in bringing new projects on stream.

Algeria's total gas production has fallen from more than 88 billion cubic metres per year in 2005, according to British energy giant BP, to little more than 80 million bcm/y in 2012, while domestic consumption continues to rise.

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