VENTURES AFRICA – Algerian state energy company Sonatrach (Société Nationale pour la Recherche, la Production, le Transport, la Transformation, et la Commercialisation des Hydrocarbures s.p.a.) has revealed plans to increase its investment to $80 billion over the next five years.
As the North African OPEC member country seeks to expand its gas resource base and boost its refining and petrochemical capacity, planned investment has been set at $12 billion more than previously announced by the North African producer, whose supply of natural gas is pertinent to European economies.
Sonatrach’s CEO Abdelhamid Zerguine, while speaking in a gas industry conference on Wednesday, said the increase in the investment is “mainly focused on the upstream (sector) to increase its refinery capacity and petrochemical base.”
Algeria needs to import large quantities of refined fuel products such as gasoline and gasoil due to insufficient refining capacity, while domestic demand is growing.
In 2011, Sonatrach purchased around 1.3 million tonnes of fuels.
Currently, the North African nation produces 1.2 million barrels of crude a day
“We are producing up to the level of the OPEC quota,” he said, referring to the quota set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. According to Zerguine, some of the $80 billion investment would be used to build new refineries.
He also hinted on Algeria’s huge shale gas reserves, which preliminary studies confirms. The country boasts an estimated 600 trillion cubic feet recoverable shale gas reserve.
Sonatrach occupies a leading position in the Algerian economy, the state-owned company also wields enormous political importance, and has a reputation for producing most energy ministers of the country.
It has concessions in Libya, Mauritania, Peru, Yemen and Venezuela; while its diversified activities cover all aspects ranging from exploration to extraction, transport, refining, petrochemistry and seawater desalination.