CNPC Looking To Algeria For Producing Assets

China National Petroleum Corp. aims to acquire up to five million tons of crude oil from Algeria by 2005, making Algeria CNPC's second-biggest overseas producing asset. CNPC has turned its attentions to Algeria following its success in southern Sudan, where it owns a 40-percent stake in the 12 million ton per year Unity field. CNPC hopes to win a contract in the Sbaa basin in southern Algeria to produce crude and build a one-million ton per year refinery.

CNPC's technical bid is highly competitive. The company's experience in Sudan sets a solid record. CNPC's Sudan activities cover oil exploration, production and refinery construction.

CNPC is also a frontrunner to enhance oil recovery at Algeria's Zarzaitine field in the southeastern Illizi basin, which currently pumps crude at approximately two million tons per year. Contenders for the project include TotalFinaElf and Sinopec.

Both projects were part of an international tender issued early in 2001 by Algerian state oil and gas company Sonatrach. Awards for the project should be announced soon. CNPC is also participating in Sonatrach's new licensing round announced early February, which offered nine oil and gas blocks mostly in the promising southern basins. The round is due to close at the end of June.