Algeria is set to launch a new oil and gas licensing round “within the coming weeks”, its energy minister was quoted as saying, as the North African country targets foreign investment in exploration to boost flagging output.
The planned onshore round, which had earlier been pencilled in towards the end of last year, would be the first block offering to be launched after the deadly terrorist attack on the In Amenas gas plant exactly a year ago that claimed the lives of 40 workers from 10 countries.
“This will not take place in the first six months of the year, but within the coming weeks,” Energy Minster Youcef Yousfi told state radio on Thursday when asked whether bidding would be launched in the first half of 2014, Reuters reported.
Algeria, which is suffering from stagnant oil production and falling gas output, has attracted only lukewarm interest from international oil companies with its last three licensing rounds, which resulted in the awarded of only nine blocks in total.
However, the Algiers government has amended hydrocarbon legislation to offer increased fiscal incentives to foreign players while also abolishing a windfall tax.
In addition, the amendments include specific provisions to support development of unconventional fuel resources, while keeping state-owned Sonatrach as the dominant partner in all upstream projects.