Algeria has postponed a round of bids for oil and gas exploration rights planned for this year after a slump in world crude prices, and will launch the round when market conditions improve, a senior Algerian energy official said on Oct. 7.
"This is not the right period to launch it," the official told Reuters on the sidelines of an oil conference in Oran. "Many major international oil companies have dropped investment plans because of the fall in prices."
Algeria, a North African OPEC member and major gas supplier to Europe, has struggled in recent years to draw the foreign oil investment it needs to help increase stagnating energy production.
State energy company Sontrach had said a bidding round was planned by the third quarter of this year, having last year awarded only four of 31 blocks on offer to foreign companies in its first attempt since a disappointing 2011 auction.
"We will launch it when the market conditions become favourable," the official said.
Algeria is struggling with a dramatic fall in energy revenue after world oil prices fell sharply this year. Energy output makes up 95 percent of the state budget and around 60 percent of the country's exports.
It expects a 4.1 percent rise in oil and gas exports this year to 195 million tonnes of oil equivalent, after achieving increased yields at its Hassi Rmel, Hassi Messaoud, Berkine and El Merk fields, a presidential statement said.
The statement noted energy output peaked at 233 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2007, before steadily declining to 187 million tonnes by 2012. But hydrocarbon output is expected to reach 224 million tonnes of oil equivalent by 2019.
It attributed the improvement to better recovery rates at Hassi Messaoud and Hassi Rmel, as well as acceleration in exploration at developments in Ahnet-Tidikelt, Tinhert, Timimoun and Reggane.
Amine Mazouzi, chief of state energy firm Sonatrach, said on Monday the company planned to maintain most of its planned investments, but would look at reducing costs. He said the company would focus on increasing output capacity for crude and gas and on refineries and petrochemicals.
Drilled by the Leiv Eirkisson drilling rig about 10 km (6 miles) northwest of the Balder Field, wildcat well 25/7-8 S hit several oil- and gas-bearing intervals, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate says.
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