Sonatrach Makes Gas Discovery in Reggane Basin

Sonatrach, the Algerian state-owned oil company, has made an important gas discovery in the southwest portion of the country in the Reggane Basin. "A preliminary evaluation shows a gas reserves volume of 17 to 23 billion cubic meters," Sonatrach said in a statement. The company said more tests would be carried out to determine the exact reserves at block 328b in the Reggane basin.

"This new discovery, following those realized in 2000 at wells AZSE.1 and DHKT.1, boosts the potential gas basin of Reggane and the development of more gas projects in these areas, situated in the southwest of Algeria," Sonatrach said.

OPEC member Algeria has pledged to invest some $23 billion in coming years to significantly boost oil and gas production. Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil told a Mediterranean gas conference earlier this week that he expected Algeria's gas exports to rise to 85 bcm per year by 2010 from around 60 bcm per year.

In 2000 Algeria held a 24 percent share of European Union gas imports, compared with less than two percent in the 1960s. Some 95 percent of its gas exports are destined for the EU. Khelil also said he expected European gas imports to reach 625 bcm by 2030 with a dependence of 63 percent on imports versus 35 percent in 2000.