ALGIERS: Algeria has hired U.S. law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP and other consultancies to help with a new energy law aimed at attracting much-needed investment, the CEO of state energy firm Sonatrach said on Monday.
The OPEC producer, which is also a major gas supplier to Europe, has been trying to attract more foreign investors, but firms have been reluctant, complaining about bureaucracy and tough terms.
The North African country has been working on a new law but it is unclear when it will be ready as many players are involved, Sonatrach CEO Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour told reporters.
Debate over reforms is often slowed by competing ideas inside a government with a history of state planning and where the ruling old guard remains wary of opening up the country.
"I have been told that we have in Algeria 40 million experts in football, but now I found out that we also have 40 million Algerians expert in oil and gas," Kaddour said.
"But the sooner we have an attractive law, the better," he said, without giving a date. "Foreign firms want to know how much they will get when they will invest."
Kaddour, a U.S. trained engineer, has been trying to attract foreign firms by fixing legal disputes, as Algeria wants to boost oil and gas revenues that halved between 2014 and 2017.
Algeria has struggled in the past to increase oil and gas output without major foreign investment.
Kaddour also said Sonatrach had signed a deal worth 85 million euros ($100 million) with Italian firm Bonatti to lift oil production at the Menzel Lejmat Nord field to 30,000 barrels a day (bpd) from the current 17.000 bpd.
The field is run with Indonesia's state energy firm Pertamina and Talisman, part of Repsol REP.MC .
Algeria’s oil production stands at more than 1 million bpd day and its gas output is around 135 billion cubic metre per year.
($1 = 0.8535 euros)
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Mark Potter) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))