Algeria’s oil and natural gas output should double in seven to 10 years as it brings on stream fields in under-explored regions, Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said while attending Tuesday’s Oil & Money conference in London. The North African nation continues to find oil and gas in the eastern region where most of its producing fields are located. It plans to step up exploration in the south-western region, start offshore drilling and develop shale and tight gas reserves. “In the mature basins in the southeast of the country, under the existing fields of natural gas, condensates and oil, we have made significant discoveries,” he said, mentioning the Illizi and Berkine regions.
Algeria’s oil production tumbled in July to 1.12 million barrels a day, the lowest level since 2003, as security concerns, corruption probes and delays in granting exploration licenses restrain its ability to bring new oil on stream. Yousfi said the country’s daily oil output was 1.2 million barrels. New finds have added at least 1 billion barrels to the reserves of Hassi Messaoud, Algeria’s oldest field that supplies about a third of its oil production.
The ministry is in the process of evaluating little-explored regions in the southwest of the country, where some oil and gas finds were made two weeks ago. An auction of onshore exploration rights, initially planned in February, should be held in two or three months to sustain the exploration effort, and an offshore well will be drilled for the first time next year. “We have between 300 and 500 technically recoverable trillion cubic feet of gas in tight gas,” said Yousfi. “We are progressing in the evaluation of shale gas in the country and it’s above 700 tcf.”
Algeria is keeping export volumes unchanged by finding new customers to offset a drop in European fuel consumption that hurt sales to the continent. “We have accepted to reduce our exports to these countries for a small period of time but generally we didn’t reduce our production,” the Minister added. “We are exporting some quantities to new markets.”