Sonatrach is “a reliable supplier of gas for the European market and is willing to support its long-term partners in case of difficult situations,” said its CEO, Toufik Hakkar, to the daily Liberté, in an interview published on Sunday 27 February.
Additional supplies of natural gas or liquefied natural gas (LNG) remain, however, dependent on the “availability of surplus volumes after meeting the demand of the domestic market” and “contractual commitments” to foreign partners, he added.
Transmed gas pipeline
Sonatrach “has unused capacity on the Transmed pipeline”, which could be used to “increase supplies to the European market,” according to Toufik Hakkar. This pipeline can transport up to 32 billion cubic meters per year, four times more than the Medgaz pipeline that supplies Spain.
Europe is the “natural market of choice” for Algeria, which currently contributes 11% of its gas imports, said Toufik Hakkar.
“Algeria exports a maximum of 22 billion cubic meters via the Transmed pipeline,” which leaves a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters to export, said the former Algerian Minister of Energy Abdelmajid Attar, also former CEO of Sonatrach. The gas could also be liquefied and sent through LNG tankers, knowing that “the liquefaction units that exist in Algeria operate at 50/60% of their capacity,” according to Abdelmajid Attar.
However, Algeria can not alone “compensate for the decline in Russian gas supply,” adds the expert, estimating that it could “provide the EU two or three billion cubic meters more” at most. But in “the medium term, in four or five years, Algeria will be able to send larger quantities”, says Attar, deeming it necessary first to “develop new reserves consisting mainly of non-conventional gas” (shale gas).
Algeria plans to invest $ 40bn between 2022 and 2026 in the exploration, production and refining of oil as well as in the exploration and extraction of gas. An extraordinary meeting of the Council of European Ministers in charge of Energy is to be held on Monday 28 February in Brussels, while several European countries depend heavily on Russia for their gas imports.
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