Algeria plans to develop huge shale gas deposits

The North African nation of Algeria, a major exporter of natural gas, intends to begin development of its massive unconventional shale gas deposits as well, according to Youcef Yousfi, that country’s minister of energy and mines.

Speaking March 9 at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Yousfi said that Algeria will partner with one or more international energy companies as a way of sharing the high development costs as well as the expertise of companies experienced in utilizing the latest drilling and extraction technology. A pilot program is slated to start up in 2012.

“We are interested in growing unconventional gas reserves,” said the minister. “Based on estimates, the reserves might be as high as 1,000 trillion cubic feet.” This would be comparable to estimated reserves in several of the larger shale plays in the United States.

Algeria currently produces about 1.4 million barrels a day of oil and exports roughly 60 billion cubic meters (2.12 trillion cubic feet) a year of natural gas. It is the third-largest supplier of gas to Europe after Russia and Norway.

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