ALGIERS--Algeria's energy minister said on Monday he would seek a "good compromise" when asked about his earlier comments that Algiers would block a plan by France's Total to buy Anadarko's Algerian assets.
Energy minister Mohamed Arkab told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on May 26 that Algeria will block Total from acquiring Anadarko's assets in Algeria.
Occidental Petroleum has agreed to sell Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa to Total for $8.8 billion if the U.S. oil company succeeds in completing its plan to take over Anadarko.
"Our ministry has contacted Anadarko to get explanations on this information, but so far we got no answer," Arkab said.
"It means there is no contract between Total and Anadarko ...We have good relations with Anadarko and we will do the utmost to preserve Algeria's interests, including using our pre-emption right to block the sale," the minister said.
On Monday, he seemed to backtrack. "Sonatrach will seek a good compromise," he said about the acquisition, speaking during a visit to Tindouf gas field, 1,700 km south west of Algiers. He did not elaborate.
Anadarko holdings in Algeria represent about 260,000 barrels of oil per day, more than 25% of the country's crude production estimated at 1 million barrels per day.
There was no immediate comment from Total or Anadarko.
In 2018, Algeria's state energy firm Sonatrach and Total signed new agreements, including a contract to develop the Erg Issouane gas field and plans to create a joint venture.
Total said at the time that the development represented an investment of $400 million. It said it would also form a joint venture company called STEP for a joint petrochemical project in Arzew, western Algeria.
But the relationship between Algeria and France remains scarred by the trauma of the 1954-1962 independence war in which the North African country broke with France. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians were killed and both sides used torture.
IHS Markit said natural gas prices would drop next year despite robust domestic demand, which has increased by 14 billion cubic feet per day since 2017, and rising exports.
Pipeline operators recently have cut tariff rates to the U.S. Gulf Coast, encouraging flows and reducing the spread between Midland and Houston oil prices.
Secretary of state believes that the US can continue with the strategy.