On 21st February, a working meeting of a group of specialists from Gazprom International took place at the Moscow offices of the company, headed up by deputy managing director Valeriy Kombarov and Allaoua Saidini, vice president of the Algerian national oil-and-gas Corporation,Sonatrach.
The participants at the meeting discussed a number of issues of mutual interest. In particular, the parties exchanged opinions regarding the draft law on hydrocarbons, which, it is expected, may be passed by the Algerian parliament in the near future. According to Mr. Saidini, the planned amendments to the Algerian legislation are aimed at attracting foreign investors and improving conditions for their activities. A separate chapter of the bill is devoted to shale gas, reserves of which amount to five trillion cubic metres in Algeria.
In addition, Mr Saidini advised that Sonatrach was currently starting work on the creation of a scientific centre where the problem of shale gas would be studied, amongst other issues. He noted that the Algerian party was expecting Gazprom International to participate in this project.
Sonatrach's representative also gave a briefing about the project to create a monitoring centre for the gas transport system and the desire to draw on Gazprom International's experience and technology in its implementation. According to him, the aggregate potential of Sonatrach and Gazprom International is seen by the management of the Algerian company as very significant.
Besides this, during the negotiations, issues were touched upon surrounding Gazprom International's possible participation in tenders that may be announced after the passing of the new law on hydrocarbons.
For his part, Mr. Kombarov voiced a proposal to establish interaction between Gazprom International and Sonatrach under the aegis of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). This idea was met with interest and, as Mr. Saidini remarked, will be carefully examined by the Algerian side.
Completing the negotiations, the parties noted their mutual desire for long-term collaboration and also their convergence of position, practically speaking, on almost all of the issues discussed.
Sonatrach ("National company for the exploration, production, transportation, processing and sale of hydrocarbons") was formed in 1963. Today, the company has a presence in Africa (Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt's), Europe (Spain, Italy, Portugal and UK), Latin America (Peru) and the USA. Sonatrach is in third place in Africa and 12th in the world with regard to production, and is also one of the world leaders in the export of liquefied gas.
Since 2009, Gazprom International has been Sonatrach's partner in the hydrocarbon exploration and development project in the oil-and-gas-bearing field of El-Assel in the Berkin oil-and-gas basin in the east of the Algerian part of the Sahara desert. Gazprom international has a 49% share in the project and Sonatrach, with a prominent role as co-investor, has 51%. In November 2010, the partners announced that potential commercial reserves of hydrocarbons were present in the subsoil of this field.
In March 2012, at a meeting with Gazprom International's managing director, Valeriy Gulev, Sonatrach's chairman, Abdelhamid Zerguine, said: "As the largest companies working in this region, not only do Sonatrach and Gazprom not compete, but they do the opposite - they work successfully based on principles of mutual collaboration", and offered to broaden the scope of the collaboration.
In June 2012, the El-Assel project entered its third and final phase of geological exploration work, and the discovery of new oil-and-gas deposits was announced in December during tests at the ZERN-1 exploratory well.