Saddled by increasing energy demand and public spending, as well as steadily declining production levels, Algeria and its state-backed firm Sonatrach have outlined an increased budget for the next five years, with much dedicated to improving downstream efforts.
Algeria recently announced a $12 billion increase in their budget dedicated to the energy sector over the next five years, adding to the $68 billion already set aside for infrastructure and downstream efforts. Much of the additional funds have been set aside for increasing Algeria’s refining capabilities and investing in non-traditional efforts, both of which will require high initial investments but are intended to decrease the country’s dependence on imports.
The importance of improving the country’s most important revenue stream has become increasingly important in recent months as the new Algerian leaders seeks out ways to avoid the kind of public protests that led to the collapse of governments in Tunisia and Libya. Like Morocco, Algeria stepped up public spending to quell growing opposition but now face pressure in sustaining such spending. Algeria currently looks to oil and gas revenue for the majority of their export revenue and much of their government spending.
Algeria’s need for greater refining capabilities has become especially clear in recent weeks as purchases of gasoline and other refined goods spiked amid increased demand and in anticipation of a six-month closure of one of the country’s largest plants. Currently responsible for nearly 335,000 bpd, the Skikda refinery will be closed over the next six months for planned repairs. Overall, planned refurbishments to Algerian downstream efforts are predicted to increase output from 1.2 million bpd to 1.5 million bpd within five years.
To help fund the effort, Sonatrach have announced their plans to return to exploration and production efforts in neighboring Libya and increase foreign investment through a revision of the country’s energy policies. The country has recently seen a decline in international interest in energy efforts due to what has been called a hostile investment environment. According to Reuters, the amendments to Algeria’s energy law will introduce “tax incentives that aim to boost offshore exploration and attract foreign companies that can bring technology know-how for the development of unconventional reserves.”
Cross Posted with Newsbase’s MENA Downstream Observer
Image: Energy D-V