TINHERT, Algeria- Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach will invest $250 million to boost output at the Tinhert gas field to 20 million cubic metres (mcm) per day by 2020 up from 5 million cubic metres, its CEO said on Monday.
"This is an important project that will push our gas output up," Sonatrach's CEO Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour told reporters on the site located in Algeria's southeast not far from Libya’s borders.
Algeria's total gas output is around 100 billion cubic metres per year, of which 55 billion are exported.
Several gas fields which were due to come onstream in 2016 and 2017 will come online this year, boosting Algeria's gas output.
The new fields include Touat, with 12.8 million cubic metres per day, Reggane North with 8 million cubic metres per day, and 148 barrels of condensate per day and Timimoun with 5 million cubic metres per day.
The OPEC member has been hit hard by a slump in world oil prices and struggled to attract energy investment to help develop new fields and increase existing production.
Algeria is a major gas supplier to Europe.
Algeria remains dependent on oil and gas earnings, which provide 60 percent of the state budget, and Sonatrach’s performance is key to the health of the economy.
The North African country has been working on a new energy law to provide better incentives for foreign firms, which had been deterred by current terms.
But there are still divergent views within Algeria’s ruling classes over how hard to push for foreign investment and domestic economic reform to boost revenues and spur growth.
Kaddour, a U.S.-educated engineer, has sought to improve the performance of Sonatrach, a sprawling state empire, and attract foreign investment to boost its oil and gas production.
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi Editing Ulf Laessing and Louise Heavens) ((Ulf.Laessing@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: follow me on twitter @ulflaessing))