EU OKs Statoil Buy Of Stake In BP-Sonatrach Salah JV

The European Union Commission Friday approved the purchase by Statoil of a stake in Algeria's In Salah natural gas joint venture between state-owned company Sonatrach and BP.

Statoil will buy half of BP's 49% stake in the In Salah gas project, which will explore, develop and produce gas. All three companies will jointly control the venture, which was created in 1996.

In a statement, the E.U. Commission said the deal "does not significantly alter the competitive situation of the European gas market."

The deal is one of two purchases by Statoil as the company enters the Algerian market. Statoil also is buying half of BP's interest in the In Amenas gas project. Together, the deals are worth $740 million in cash.

Gross recoverable reserves for these two projects are estimated to be 2.28 billion barrels of oil equivalent, including 170 billion cubic meters of gas from In Salah and 140 billion cubic meters of gas and 325 million barrels of liquids from In Amenas.

Production from In Salah is planned to start in mid-2004, with peak production of nine billion cubic meters per annum of gas, and from In Amenas in late 2005, with peak production of nine billion cubic meters of gas per annum plus an additional liquid production of 60,000 barrels per day.