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Algeria Sees Decision on Italy Pipeline in November

Source: Reuters 7/11/2012, Location: Africa

Algeria's state oil firm said a final decision on the fate of a planned gas pipeline linking the North African country to Italy would be made in November, after economic and technical problems had threatened to delay the project.

The 8 billion cubic metre pipeline had been scheduled to start up in 2014, but since it was given the go-ahead, European demand for natural gas has slumped, changing the economics of the project.

A Libyan official said in newspaper comments in April that the project had not been cancelled but was being revised in light of those market changes.

The project had already faced delays because of concerns about the route and hold-ups in obtaining approvals from the Italian government and local authorities.

"The final decision has been postponed to November. Talks on technical issues are underway. Algeria will defend long-term contracts," Sonatrach Chief Executive Abdelhamid Zerguine told a news conference on Wednesday.

Partners in the Galsi project include Sonatrach and Italian utilities Edison, Enel and Hera.

Algeria already provides Italy with about 35 percent of its imported gas. Most comes via an existing pipeline from Algeria, through neighbouring Tunisia and under the Mediterranean to Italy.

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