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Algeria invites bids for oil/gas exploration

OPEC member Algeria unveiled details of its 7th exploration and production licensing round on Sunday, inviting prequalified companies to bid for acreage with what it called high petroleum potential.

The deadline for bids for 16 zones containing 45 blocks was 1000 (0900 GMT) on 3 December 2008 and the winners would be announced two hours later at 1200 (1100 GMT), a statement on the Energy and Mines Ministry website said. The contracts will be signed on 17 December 2008, the statement said, adding companies may bid to become an operator and/or an investor.

The round, the first since April 2005, has been keenly awaited by multinational companies seeking permits to explore in Algeria, which is among the world’s top owners of oil and gas reserves and a major gas exporter to Europe. “The selected zones are in different Algerian sedimentary petroleum basins offering a high potential in petroleum resources,” said the statement by the ministry’s National Agency for the Valorization of Hydrocarbon Resources (ALNAFT). The round is the first to be offered under a 2006 law that gives state energy conglomerate Sonatrach a mandatory minimum 51% share in every oil and gas exploration contract awarded to foreign companies.

British Petroleum, Amerada Hess, Statoil, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Repsol and Total are the main foreign companies involved in exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Algeria. The statement said prequalified companies would receive a general technical presentation on 23 July, and data rooms of detailed information on each project would be open in two sessions from August 2 to 13 and September 1 to October 15, 2008. Algeria has not identified the prequalified companies. Algeria invited companies to apply for prequalification back in January 2008.

Official media have reported Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil as saying the successful candidates would be chosen on the basis of various criteria, including their ability to support Algeria’s goal of boosting its growing international upstream role.

Algeria produces about 1.4 million barrels of crude oil per day. Its gas exports are currently estimated at 62 billion cubic meters per year, and are expected to reach 85 billion cubic meters by 2012. (Reuters)