(Adds details, background)
By Lamine Chikhi
ALGIERS, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Algerian state energy firm
Sonatrach and Total are planning to work more closely
together on offshore, petrochemical, solar energy and shale
exploration projects, Sonatrach's CEO said on Wednesday.
The CEO's comments signal a new chapter for the companies'
efforts to cooperate on energy projects and show they have put
behind them past disputes, including one in the mid-2000s over
profit-sharing on oil and gas contracts.
"Our relation with Total is good now. We will do a lot
together including in shale, solar and offshore. We are also
into petrochemicals," Sonatrach CEO Ould Kaddour told reporters.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony for Total and
Sonatrach to sign a joint cooperation deal to produce 5 million
cubic meters of gas by April 2018 at Algeria's Timimoun gas
"We definitely need its (Total's) expertise and knowledge,"
Kaddour said, he did not give more details.
Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne, who was also attending the
ceremony, said the Timimoun cooperation was the beginning of a
"fruitful, strong and reliable" partnership between the two
Algeria, a major gas supplier to Europe, remains dependent
on oil and gas earnings which provide 60 percent of the state
budget and Sonatrach’s performance is key to the health of the
The North African OPEC member had struggled to attract oil
investment in the past because of unattractive terms, but in
2016 Sonatrach adopted a more flexible approach to bilateral
talks with foreign partners.
The sharp fall in oil prices hit Algeria hard, prompting the
government to find ways improve revenues.
But there are still divergent views within Algeria’s ruling
classes over how hard to push for foreign investment and
domestic economic reform to boost revenues and spur growth.
Kaddour, a U.S. educated engineer has sought to improve the
performance of Sonatrach, a sprawling state empire, and attract
more foreign investment to boost its oil and gas production.
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing
by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman)
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