KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Algerian state energy company Sonatrach plans to increase its investment to $80 billion over the next five years as the OPEC member country seeks to expand its gas resource base and boost its refining and petrochemical capacity.
The planned investment is $12 billion more than previously announced by the North African producer, which is a significant supplier of natural gas to Europe.
“The increase in the investment is mainly focused on the upstream (sector) to increase its refinery capacity and petrochemical base,” Sonatrach CEO Abdelhamid Zerguine told a gas industry conference on Wednesday.
Algeria needs to import large quantities of refined fuel products such as gasoline and gasoil due to insufficient refining capacity, while domestic demand is growing.
In 2011, Sonatrach purchased around 1.3 million tonnes of fuels.
Zerguine said some of the $80 billion investment would be used to build new refineries, but he gave not details.
He also said Algeria has huge shale gas reserves. A preliminary study shows that Algeria has an estimated 600 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas reserves, he said, without giving details.
Algeria currently produces 1.2 million barrels of crude a day, Zerguine added.
“We are producing up to the level of the OPEC quota,” he said, referring to the quota set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.