Algeria Boosts Oil Output at Two Major Fields

Source: Reuters 7/18/2016, Location: Africa

Algeria has boosted output in recent months at two major oil fields, including the Hassi Messaoud field, an oil official said on Monday, as the OPEC member strives to maximise production to make up for lost revenue.

Production at Hassi Messaoud, 800 km (500 miles) southeast of the capital Algiers, has risen to 470,000 barrels from 420,000 barrels, the official from state energy firm Sonatrach told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference.

Output at Ourhoud oil field, around 1,100 km southeast of Algiers, has risen to 125,000 barrels from 100,000 barrels, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Ourhoud field is operated by Sonatrach and its associates Anadarko, Pertamina and Cepsa.

Energy Minister Nouredine Bouterfa told reporters in Hassi Messaoud that Algeria's top goal was to increase production by 30 percent by 2020.

Bouterfa has also said that Algeria would not wait for a tender in two years time, but would deal directly with international firms present in the country.

"We can't wait two years because we need to boost our output," Bouterfa said. He said Algeria's current production is at 1.2 million barrels per day.

About 97 percent of Algeria's revenues are from hydrocarbon sales. The North African State is a supplier of gas to Europe.

Sonatrach is struggling to raise hydrocarbon output to ease pressure from a crash in oil prices that slashed revenues by almost 50 percent.

Two bidding tenders in recent years failed to attract much interest, with oil executives saying that tough terms on production-sharing contracts and bureaucracy made the country a less attractive prospect.

Sonatrach has focused on maximising output at its mature fields and seeking foreign partners for technology. A senior Sonatrach manager said it would dig 32 to 50 wells at Hassi Messaoud starting this year compared to eight wells in 2013 and 2014.

Sonatrach officials showed a well at Hassi Messaoud that had been revamped at a total cost of $14 million, half the price of what they said a foreign firm would have charged.

"We have demonstrated that we can do things by ourselves," said Brahim Hamoudi, general manager of Sonatrach's well engineering division ENTP.

But Sonatrach managers said they would also do more to attract foreign investors, including the establishment of a channel to hear complaints.

"We need to listen more carefully to what they have to say," said one Sonatrach source familiar with dealing with international firms. "We know they want us to be more flexible."

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