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Transcript of Algeria Overview
Algeria Last Updated: May 20, 2013 (Notes)
OverviewAlgeria is the largest natural gas producer and second largest oil producer, after Nigeria, in
Africa. It became a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) in 1969, shortly after it began oil production in 1958. Currently, the country is heavily
reliant on its hydrocarbon sector, which accounted for almost 70 percent of government
budget revenue and grants and about 98 percent of export earnings in 2011, according to
the International Monetary Fund.
In recent years, crude oil production has been stagnant, while natural gas production has
gradually declined, because new production and infrastructure projects have repeatedly
been delayed. Additionally, in the last three licensing rounds there has been limited interest
from investors to undertake new oil and gas projects under the government's current terms.
As a result, the Algerian parliament recently approved amendments to the current
hydrocarbon law and introduced fiscal incentives to entice foreign companies to take on
new ventures, particularly exploration in offshore areas and in areas onshore that contain
The recent militant attack on the In Amenas gas facility prompted security concerns about
operating in Algeria's remote areas, particularly in the south. Any major disruption to
Algeria's hydrocarbon production would not only be detrimental to the local economy but,
depending on the scale of lost production, could affect world oil prices. Also, since Algeria is
the fourth largest natural gas supplier to Europe, unplanned cuts to natural gas output could
affect some European countries. Natural gas and oil account for almost all of Algeria's total
energy consumption, and the country consumes very small amounts of hydro power, coal,
and traditional biomass.
Source: U.S. Department of State
Oil and gas sector organizationAlgeria's national oil and gas company, Sonatrach, dominates the country's hydrocarbonsector, owning roughly 80 percent of all hydrocarbon production. By law, Sonatrach is givenmajority ownership of oil and gas projects in Algeria.
Algeria's oil and gas industry is governed by the Hydrocarbon Act of 2005. The initial
legislation established terms that guided the involvement of international oil companies
(IOCs) in upstream exploration and production, midstream transportation, and the
downstream sector. The original 2005 legislation was more favorable to foreign
involvement than its predecessor, which was passed in 1986. However, amendments to
the bill were made in 2006 that reversed some of those favorable terms. In the 2006
amendments, Algeria's national oil company, Entreprise Nationale Sonatrach (Sonatrach),
was granted a minimum equity stake of 51 percent in any hydrocarbon project, and a
windfall profits tax was introduced for IOCs.
In 2012, Algeria began revising the hydrocarbon law in an attempt to attract foreign investors
to new projects. The parliament approved the amendments in January 2013. Amid declining
hydrocarbon production and stagnant reserves, the Algerian government has stated it
needs foreign partners to increase oil and gas reserves and explore new territories, such
as offshore in the Mediterranean and areas containing shale oil and gas resources. The
amendments, however, do not change Sonatrach's majority stake requirement, but include
changes to the tax structure and offer greater fiscal incentives to companies investing in
offshore exploration and unconventional resources.
Sonatrach owns roughly 80 percent of total hydrocarbon production in Algeria, while IOCs
account for the remaining 20 percent, according to data from Rystad Energy. IOCs with
notable stakes in oil and gas fields are: Cepsa (Spain), BP (United Kingdom), Eni (Italy),
Repsol (Spain), Total (France), Statoil (Norway), and Anadarko (United States). Sonatrach's
substantial assets in Algeria make it the largest oil and gas company not only in the country,
but also in Africa. The company operates in several parts of the world as well, including:
Africa (Mali, Niger, Libya, Egypt), Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom), Latin
America (Peru), and the United States.
Over the last few years, Algeria has experienced difficulties attracting foreign investors,
particularly at licensing rounds. In the country's seventh licensing round in 2008, only 4 of
the available 16 blocks were awarded, 3 out of 8 in 2009, and 2 out of 10 in 2011. Some
analysts believe that the lack of fiscal incentives to attract foreign investors to new projects,
coupled with past Sonatrach corruption allegations, were to blame. Algeria's precarious
security environment has also been a concern for investors.
Militant groups operating in North Africa and the Sahel have presented security risks to oiland gas installations in the region. In January 2013, a militant group stormed Algeria's InAmenas gas facility, resulting in several causalities and a temporary suspension of gasproduction.
Concerns over Algeria's security environment resurfaced on January 16, 2013 when a
militant group attacked the In Amenas gas facility, resulting in over 60 worker and militant
causalities. The attack reportedly damaged two of the facility's three processing trains, of
which each has the capacity to process 3 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y). Output at In
Amenas was partially restarted at the end of February 2013 at one of the three trains. The
Algerian government claims that production losses from In Amenas were offset by
increases in production at other gas fields.
The In Amenas gas processing facility is jointly operated by Sonatrach, BP, and Statoil and
is located near the Libyan border. In 2011 and 2012, In Amenas output averaged 7.8 bcm/y
of natural gas, accounting for 10 percent of Algeria's total natural gas production, according
The In Amenas gas facility in Algeria
to the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES). Natural gas liquids (NGL) are also produced at
the In Amenas fields and averaged 43,400 barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, although
nameplate capacity is around 60,000 bbl/d.
The In Amenas attack has prompted companies to review their security at oil and gas
installations in Algeria and other North African countries. The Algerian government said it
will increase security presence at all of its oil and gas facilities, particularly those in the
OilAlgeria had 12.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, as of January 1, 2013. All of theproven oil reserves are held onshore, since there has been limited offshore exploration. Thegovernment recently approved amendments to Algeria's hydrocarbon law that included fiscalincentives for foreign companies to invest in untapped exploration areas, particularlyoffshore and in areas believed to contain unconventional resources.
According to the Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ), Algeria held an estimated 12.2 billion barrels of
proven oil reserves, as of January 1, 2013, the third largest reserves in Africa (behind Libya
and Nigeria). All of the country's proven oil reserves are held onshore, because there has
been limited offshore exploration. The majority of proven oil reserves are in the Hassi
Messaoud province, which contains the country's largest oil field, Hassi Messaoud, located
in the eastern part of the country, near the Libyan border.
According to Sonatrach, about 66 percent of Algerian territory remains unexplored or largely
underexplored. Most of these areas are in the north and offshore. Over the last few years,
Sonatrach has directed exploration efforts toward those areas, and the Algerian government
recently passed amendments to its current hydrocarbon law, which included fiscal
incentives to entice foreign companies to explore those areas. Along with underexplored
areas, there is still potential to expand field production in areas that have already been
exploited, particularly in the Hassi Messaoud, Illizi, and Berkin basins. According to
Sonatrach, the Hassi Messaoud-Dahar province contains about 71 percent of the country's
combined proven, probable, and possible oil reserves, while the Illizi basin, the second
largest area, contains about 15 percent. The Illizi and Berkine basins have been home to
many discoveries since the 1990s and still hold significant potential.
Production and development
The country produced 1.87 million bbl/d of total petroleum liquids in 2012, which includescrude oil, condensate, natural gas liquids, and refinery processing gain. The three largest oilfields, Hassi Messaoud, Ourhoud, and Hassi Berkine, contribute to about half of total crudeoil production, which averaged 1.2