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Nigeria, Algeria Restate Cooperation On Petroleum

Source: Africa News 7/2/2005, Location: Africa

NIGERIA and Algeria have renewed their commitment to mutual economic cooperation in the areas of oil and gas exploration, production and export. Under the arrangement, Algeria will participate in Nigeria's upstream petroleum industry business while supporting the trans-Saharan gas pipeline project which will export Nigeria's natural gas through Algeria to Europe.

Algerian national oil company, SONATRACH, has already indicated interest in oil blocks in the sedimentary basin of Lake Chad put on offer in the 2005 bidding round. Visiting President General of SONATRACH, Mr. Mohammed Rafa'a Babaghayou told Nigeria's Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, Dr. Edmund Daukorou, in Abuja that Algeria was interested in oil blocks in Nigeria's Chad basin.

Nigeria had offered about 75 oil blocks in the 2005 bidding round covering locations in the inland river basins, coastal, conventional offshore and deepwater locations. The inland sedimentary basins include the Chad Basin, Benue trough and Anambra Basin. Mr. Babaghayou said the Algerian SONATRACH was not only interested in the oil blocks but also keen in partnering with other block winners under private commercial arrangement.

He assured Dr. Daukoru that Algeria has the requisite technology and funding to effectively take part in Nigeria's growing oil and gas sector, especially in the Chad Basin that is opening up. Dr. Daukoru said he was delighted that SONATRACH was taking part in the 2005 licensing round. He said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was equally seeking exploration licences in parts of North Africa having made some in-road into the Libyan oil and gas industry. According to him, the 2005 bid round will be transparent as it will be conducted in the full glare of participants, with bids scores to be assessed on four parameters. The parameters included signature bonus, cost oil ceiling local content and work commitment.

The Algerian oil minister Chekb Khelil had early this month announced his country's intention to take up oil blocks in the Chad basin. On Trans-Sahara gas pipeline involving the two countries, Daukoru said government was committed to the take-off of the project. The 4,000 kilometre gas pipeline will take gas from Nigeria to the European market through Algeria. "Nigeria intends to balance piped gas with liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects which have received government's attention in recent time," Daukoru said.

Feasibility study on the project which will utilize existing pipeline facilities in Algeria has been awarded.Nigeria has put 75 blocks across the country on offer which has so far attracted over 200 bids from oil companies including the multinationals. The bidding conference date has been slated for August.

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