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  • Mardi 8 mai 2007 -- Aujourd’hui, les centres d’arbitrage se multiplient de plus en plus en Afrique, dans le Monde arabe et au Maghreb. En témoignent les nombreux centres créés au Maroc, en Tunisie, et en 1993, l’Algérie aussi s’est dotée d’un centre d’arbitrage.

    En effet, la libéralisation de l’économie nationale ne pouvait se faire sans la création d’une telle institution qui, jusqu’à présent, a enregistré plusieurs sentences. Les mutations qui ont caractérisé l’environnement économique n’ont pas mis à l’abri les entreprises algériennes, qu’elles soient publiques ou privées, de l’escroquerie de la part des entreprises écrans, le nombre exact de litiges enregistrés en Algérie n’est pas connu.

    A ce sujet, M. Ali Haroun, avocat agréé auprès de la Cour suprême, a, en réponse à une des questions posées hier lors d’une table ronde organisée à l’occasion d’un séminaire de formation à la pratique de l’arbitrage commercial, annoncé que «le groupe Sonatrach depuis sa création en 1963, compte pas moins de 45 sentences, […]. Il gagné autant qu’il a perdu !» Actuellement «2 ou 3 sentences sont en cours».

    De nos jours, l’arbitrage commercial est devenu une nécessité pour le règlement de conflits et contentieux à caractère économique, notamment à la veille de l’adhésion de l’Algérie à l’Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC). En outre, l’arbitrage international demeure onéreux, c’est pour cette raison que de nombreux litiges opposant des entreprises algériennes à des entreprises étrangères et faute de financement, n’ont pas pu être exposés devant la cour d’arbitrage internationale. Elles sont donc contraintes d’abandonner leur droit à mi-chemin.

    Utile de rappeler que l’arbitrage est une méthode de règlement des différends selon laquelle les parties en litige demandent à un arbitre indépendant d’entendre leur cause et de décider comment le différend doit être réglé. L’arbitrage est mené par un organisme neutre qui fournit des arbitres, habituellement des juges à la retraite et des avocats qui connaissent bien l’industrie des valeurs mobilières. Tous les aspects des délibérations sont confidentiels et toutes les audiences sont privées, à moins que les deux parties en décident autrement.

    Il est régi par des règles précises établies par le législateur provincial. La décision d’un arbitre est exécutoire.

    En choisissant l’arbitrage, les parties renoncent à leur droit de poursuivre l’affaire devant les tribunaux et signent un accord à cet effet au début du processus d’arbitrage. Les parties peuvent choisir d’être représentées par un avocat durant l’arbitrage, mais cela n’est pas obligatoire.

    Comment


    • Madrid, Miércoles, 9 de mayo -- El Consejo de Administración de la Comisión Nacional de la Energía (CNE) ha acordado por unanimidad autorizar con condiciones a Sonatrach a elevar del 20 al 36% su participación en el consorcio Medgaz, que construirá un gasoducto submarino entre Argelia y España.

      El regulador energético podrá revocar la autorización si la compañía pública argelina pone en riesgo la seguridad del suministro energético en España con su actuación en el consorcio.

      Sonatrach deberá informar trimestralmente a la CNE sobre la evolución de su participación, su presencia en los órganos de administración de Medgaz y las entradas o salidas de otros miembros del consorcio.

      Sonatrach tendrá que respetar el actual régimen de derechos y obligaciones y la pluralidad actual de accionistas. Todos los socios tendrán derecho a transportar gas por el futuro gasoducto de forma proporcional a la capacidad de la que sean titulares.

      Comment


      • Madrid, 8 de mayo de 2007 -- El consejo de administración de la Comisión Nacional de la Energía (CNE) acordó hoy por unanimidad autorizar con condiciones a la empresa estatal argelina Sonatrach a incrementar su participación en el consorcio Medgaz hasta el 36%, informó el regulador energético.

        Sonatrach podrá así elevar su participación en un 16% en el gasoducto Medgaz, pasando de un 20% a un 36% del capital, con lo que se consolida como el primer accionista del consorcio, tras la salida de BP y Total.

        De todas maneras, el organismo que preside María Teresa Costa supedita la autorización de este aumento de participación de Sonatrach en Medgaz, que construirá un gasoducto entre Argelia y España, al cumplimiento de ocho condiciones.

        Entre estos requisitos destaca que, Sonatrach deberá comunicar al regulador energético, en un plazo de diez días, cualquier acuerdo del consejo o de la junta de accionistas de Medgaz o cualquier decisión de veto adoptada con su apoyo.

        En ese caso, la CNE, salvo que sean adoptados con el apoyo de Sonatrach y de dos o más socios, valorará el impacto de estos acuerdos y decisiones sobre la seguridad de suministro española y adoptará, o recomendará a la instancia competente, las acciones oportunas.

        SEGURIDAD DE SUMINISTRO

        Si el organismo presidido por María Teresa Costa estima que cualquier acuerdo o veto pueda tener un impacto negativo sobre la seguridad de suministro, podrá, en el plazo de un mes de la celebración de la junta o sesión del consejo, ordenar motivadamente revocarlo o bien, en supuestos de especial gravedad, revocar total o parcialmente, previa la tramitación de un procedimiento administrativo, la autorización concedida hoy.

        En este último supuesto, iniciado el procedimiento de revocación, la CNE podrá acordar la suspensión provisional del ejercicio de los derechos de voto correspondientes a las acciones de Medgaz que hubieran sido adquiridas por Sonatrach, como consecuencia de las operaciones de adquisición objeto de esta autorización.

        La revocación de la autorización comportará la obligación de transmitir las acciones de Medgaz que hubieran sido adquiridas como consecuencia de las operaciones de adquisición objeto de la esta autorización, en un plazo de seis meses.

        POLÍTICAS PARA LLEVAR A EFECTO EL PROYECTO

        También, debido a su influencia significativa en Medgaz, Sonatrach promoverá políticas orientadas a realizar todas las actuaciones necesarias para llevar a efecto el proyecto del gasoducto y su entrada en funcionamiento en junio/julio de 2009 con una capacidad anual de 93.040 gigavatios/hora (GWh) (8 bcm) y las características técnicas que contempla.

        Además, deberá facilitar y en ningún caso oponerse a propuestas de planes económicamente viables de ampliación del gasoducto por encima de la capacidad anual de los 93.040 GWh, bien sea en el supuesto de que dicha ampliación esté destinada a permitir el suministro de mayores volúmenes de gas o que esté dirigido a aumentar las flexibilidad de las entregas de gas a España.

        La compañía argelina también tendrá que respetar el actual régimen de derechos y obligaciones y la pluralidad actual de accionistas, "tanto en el caso de mantenerse la capacidad del gasoducto en 8 bcm/año (miles de millones de metros cúbicos), como en el caso de posibles ampliaciones del mismo, sin perjuicio de que puedan salir accionistas de la sociedad por razones objetivas y no discriminatorias, que serán debidamente justificadas ante la CNE".

        Asimismo, Sonatrach deberá de informar trimestralmente al regulador energético sobre el grado de utilización de su capacidad de transporte contratada en el gasoducto, y en el caso de observar situaciones de "reiterada infrautilización" por debajo del 80%, la CNE realizará un informe en el que examinará las causas de ellos y "sus efectos sobre los intereses generales, y específicamente, la seguridad española".

        En este caso, la CNE adoptará, o recomendará a la instancia competente, las medidas necesarias para paliar los riesgos causados por estas situaciones de infrautilización de su capacidad de transporte.

        Finalmente, la compañía argelina deberá informar trimestralmente a la CNE sobre la evolución de su participación accionarial, su presencia en los órganos de administración del consorcio, variaciones en los estatutos sociales y en el pacto de accionistas, así como las entras o salidas de otros socios de Medgaz.

        El regulador energético revisará las condiciones de la autorización concedida hoy si Sonatrach eleva su influencia sobre la gestión de Medgaz.

        Comment


        • May 8, 2007 -- Spanish Economy and Finance Minister Mr. Pedro Solbes, will visit Algeria this Wednesday May 9th according to Spanish sources.

          Mr. Pedro Solbes has been invited by Algerian Finance Minister, Mr. Mourad Medelci. He will have talks with his Algerian counterpart and be received by Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem before meeting Investment and Participation Minister Mr. Hamid Temmar as well as state-owned petroleum company “Sonatrach” CEO, Mr. Mohamed Meziane, said the same source.

          Gas, the main product Algeria exports towards Spain, won’t be on the discussions’ agenda for this visit, according to the same Spanish source.

          Algeria is negotiating a 20 percent hike in the price it charges Spain's dominant gas company Gas Natural.

          The hike covers two existing contracts, which together supply 9 billion cubic metres a year of gas to Spain via a pipeline that runs through Morocco. Algeria also sells Spain liquefied natural gas (LNG).

          The hike would affect 30 percent of the gas used in Spain and would be a staged increase, perhaps every six months.

          The increase would affect existing contracts, which are not yet due to expire Algerian oil Minister Chakib Khelil indicated during the Barcelona Energy meeting last April, that Algeria could request international arbitration to sort out the issue.

          The Spanish government announced three weeks ago that it intends to reinvest 30 million euros of Algeria debts in the public projects, including training.

          During his last March visit to Algeria, Spanish King Juan Carlos, said his country granted 100 million dollars in projects in Algeria.

          During the first quarter of 2007, Spanish exports reached 400 million euros, against 1 billion euros gas sales Algeria achieved with Spain.

          Comment


          • L’Algérie et les Etats-Unis d’Amérique concluront, début juin prochain, dans la capitale algérienne, Alger, un protocole d’accord pour le développement de la coopération bilatérale dans le domaine nucléaire civil. L’annonce a été faite à Washington, hier, par le ministre algérien de l’Energie et des Mines, Chakib Khelil. La déclaration a été livrée à l’APS, au sortir d’un entretien, lundi, avec le secrétaire américain à l’Energie, M. Samuel Bodman:

            Mercredi 9 Mai 2007 -- Le ministre de l’Energie et des Mines a, dans sa déclaration à l’APS, précisé que cette coopération bilatérale dans le domaine du nucléaire civil se matérialisera par la mise en place de mécanismes de coopération et d’échanges multiformes. «L’Algérie et les Etats-Unis signeront, début juin, à Alger, un protocole d’accord dans le domaine de la coopération nucléaire en vue de mettre en place des mécanismes de coopération et d’échanges multiformes, à travers notamment la formule des «Sister Laboratories», a affirmé Chakib Khelil, ajoutant que « les deux parties œuvreront ainsi à organiser des échanges d’expériences, de connaissances, de visites d’experts et spécialistes mais aussi à conduire en commun des programmes».

            Le ministre de l’Energie et des Mines a expliqué, en outre, que le protocole d’accord, dont la signature est projetée pour le début du mois prochain, permettra à la fois aux organismes et centres de recherche algériens opérant dans le secteur nucléaire de quantifier les résultats et mesurer les expériences engrangées mais aussi de bénéficier de l’expertise et des avancées technologiques des Etats-Unis. Et qui se réalisera à travers des programmes de coopération et des partenariats.

            Lors de son entretien avec le secrétaire d’Etat américain à l’Energie, le ministre de l’Energie et des Mines a eu, par ailleurs, à défendre la copie révisée de la loi sur les hydrocarbures. Une révision, c’est un secret de Polichinelle, qui n’a pas agréé les Américains, puisqu’elle opérait un retour à une souveraineté de l’Etat sur les hydrocarbures. Chakib Khelil a aussi expliqué les objectifs recherchés à travers l’instauration d’une taxe sur les profils exceptionnels. «Cette taxe est bien appliquée par d’autres pays comme le Royaume- Uni. En Algérie, elle touche toutes les compagnies qui y travaillent. Elle sera maintenue, d’autant que la majorité des contrats ont été signés en 1989, qu’ils sont déjà amortis et que les sociétés qui y sont soumises ne sont nullement affectées du point de vue de leur rentabilité», a affirmé Chakib Khelil.

            La taxe en question, pour rappel, est applicable aux compagnies pétrolières lorsque le prix du baril de pétrole dépasse les 30 dollars. Elle devait être mise en application à compter de mars dernier. Et l’on sait que la société américaine Anadarko ne s’y est pas soumise sans rechigner. La compagnie américaine n’est pas restée, on s’en souvient, sans faire des vagues autour de cette taxe. Mais il semble en définitive que sa réaction n’a pas réussi à infléchir la décision algérienne, en ce sens que le ministre de l’Energie et des Mines a réaffirmé depuis Washington, où il séjourne présentement et jusqu’au 14 mai prochain, date à laquelle il présidera, dans la capitale fédérale américaine, un symposium qu’organise le Conseil des affaires Etats-Unis-Algérie sur l’énergie, que la taxe sera maintenue.

            La rencontre de Khelil avec son vis-à-vis américain ne s’est par ailleurs pas achevée sans que soit abordé le chapitre relatif au gaz et à l’idée, en gestation, il faut le dire, de la création d’une Opep du gaz. «Nous avons échangé des idées sur tous ces sujets (résultats du Forum des pays producteurs, exportateurs et consommateurs de gaz tenu à Doha, l’idée d’une Opep de Gaz, ndlr) et d’autres qui intéressent l’avenir de l’industrie énergétique mondiale et aussi notre coopération dans ce domaine. Nous avons expliqué notre position en tant que pays producteur et exportateur et fait valoir nos positions du seul point de vue de la logique économique», a déclaré Khelil. Le rapprochement entre les sociétés algérienne et russe de gaz a été, a indiqué Khelil, également abordé avec Bodman.

            Le ministre de l’Energie et des Mines a précisé que ce rapprochement «obéit à une logique commerciale, comme cela existe entre Sonatrach et de nombreuses sociétés américaines ou européennes. Nous encourageons les entreprises de production à coopérer dans différents domaines et segments d’activité. Nous ne cherchons pas le contrôle du marché mondial du gaz ou la fixation des prix. Nous nous préoccupons de la rentabilité de nos entreprises et d’assurer le développement économique de nos pays».

            Comment


            • May 9, 2007 -- The Algerian energy minister, Chakib Khelil announced that an agreement with the United States on the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes has been reached and a deal will be sealed in June for a joint project. Khelil made the announcement this week to the Algerian press agency APS while visiting Washington. Khelil spoke of the creation of sister laboratories and leveraging American expertise in nuclear research.

              It is worth mentioning that Algeria and Russia have a clause in their bilateral agreements relative to nuclear cooperation and that the new French President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed during his election campaign his country's interest in helping Algeria develop nuclear capability for civilian use.

              At present, Algeria possesses two experimental nuclear reactors of 3 and 15 megawatts. The smaller one called Nour is based in Draria near the capital Algiers. Nour was built by the Argentineans. The biggest reactor called Essalem, was built by the Chinese in Aïn Oussera. These reactors have been under the scrutiny of the international atomic energy agency IAEA. In 2006, the IAEA co-sponsored a regional conference held in Algiers on the topic of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Algeria possesses approximately 56,000 tons of uranium in deposits found throughout the lower half of the region called the Targui Shield or Hoggar Massif. These include the Timgaounine, Tinef, and Abankor deposits, and the Tahaggart deposit near the Algerian-Niger border.

              Government sources say that currently Algeria is developing a program with the IAEA with the goal of using nuclear energy for electricity production, with applications in healthcare, resources management and other areas.

              Comment


              • Mercredi 9 mai 2007 -- Le ministre espagnol de l’Economie et des Finances, M. Pedro Solbes, effectue aujourd’hui une visite d’une journée à Alger, à l’invitation du ministre des Finances, M. Mourad Medelci. Outre les entretiens qu’il aura avec M. Medelci, M. Solbes devra également rencontrer le chef du gouvernement, M. Abdelaziz Belkhadem, ainsi que le ministre des Participations et de la Promotion des investissements, M. Hamid Temmar.

                Concernant le volet énergétique, M. Solbes s’entretiendra avec le président-directeur général de Sonatrach, M. Mohamed Meziane, en l’absence du ministre de l’Energie et des Mines, M Chakib Khelil, qui se trouve actuellement aux Etats-Unis pour une visite de travailde huit jours consacrée exclusivement aux secteurs pétrolier et gazier.

                Le gaz, principal produit d’exportation algérien vers l’Espagne, n’est pas à l’ordre du jour de cette visite, selon des sources espagnoles citées par l’AFP. C’est une question à propos de laquelle l’Algérie pourrait avoir recours à l’arbitrage international, avait annoncé M. Khelil il y a à peine quelques jours, étant donné que les négociations entre les deux parties sont dans l’impasse.

                En fait, l’Algérie veut augmenter le prix de son gaz vendu à l’Espagne pour le mettre au niveau de celui provenant d’autres sources, mais Madrid ne semble pas vouloir donner une suite favorable à la question. Le gouvernement espagnol a annoncé, il y a trois semaines, la conversion de 30 millions d’euros de dette algérienne en investissements au profit de projets publics, notamment dans la formation.

                Lors de la visite en Algérie du roi d’Espagne Juan Carlos en mars dernier, l’Espagne avait octroyé un crédit de 100 millions d’euros pour des études de faisabilité de projets intéressant des entreprises espagnoles, notamment dans les énergies renouvelables, l’hydraulique et les infrastructures.

                Au premier trimestre 2007, les exportations algériennes vers l’Espagne – du gaz essentiellement – ont atteint un milliard d’euros, alors que les exportations espagnoles vers l’Algérie – hors services – se sont élevées à 400 millions d’euros.

                Comment


                • Analysis:

                  May 9, 2007 -- Since Algeria signed on January 21 last in the Algerian capital one of the most important cooperation protocols in the field of gas between Algerian Sonatrach and Russian Gazprom, the EU countries implicitly acknowledge the growing dependency on Algerian gas. On the other hand, these countries and the US fear that this Maghreb country may contribute to the emergence of a global gas cartel.

                  In this context, we can say that Algerian President Bouteflika is more aware than anyone else how to play the energy card with the view of defending the political and economic interests of his country. When Bouteflika announced on March 13 that the establishment of a gas OPEC is not a bad idea, he wanted to anticipate situations of foreign companies that are preparing to move to meet the new tax on extraordinary profits (TPE), imposed by the Algerian Ministry of Energy and Mines with all possible and appropriate means. Moreover, the laws adopted in this regard confirmed that Sonatrach, which oversees the management of the gas sector in Algeria, would obtain from now on a share not less than 51% of the total oil and gas projects.

                  In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais on the eve of the visit paid by Spanish King Juan Carlos to Algeria in order to contain differences between the two countries, Bouteflika recalled that his country would definitely be one of the founders of this gas cartel, which would come to light, adding that the emergence of this new organization is "in line with trends that have surfaced through globalization which are pushing producers to come together to defend their interests." Through this confirmation Bouteflika wanted to answer back to a number of European officials, who hinted at several mini symposia and seminars that they would not allow Algeria to play in the stadium of the big players and, therefore, impose its conditions on the gas market in the world.

                  Nevertheless, despite these implicit threats, Algeria raised the prices of its gas exports to Spain and began to reconsider its previous agreements with Italy. This means it has already started to play with the gas card, not only with the aim to maintain its economic interests, but also to ensure its geo-strategic interests in North Africa and the south of the Mediterranean.

                  For those interested, more than two years ago, Algeria used this method to culminate its relations with economic partners and identify their degrees according to national interests. However, Bouteflika seems determined to use the gas card to the end in order to strengthen his European, international and even Arab situations. The test of strength, which is underway with the American Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, which is opposed to the new tax imposed by the Ministry of Energy in Algeria, is a clear manifestation of this determination, and will inevitably lead to confrontation. Although the company threatened to resort to international specialized courts, and despite tension with Washington, which did not give consent to the Algerian government's backtracking on the application of an energy law providing for opening the door of this sector to foreign investment, Algeria adheres to its standpoints and will not budge.

                  The emergence of an axis between Sonatrach and the giant Russian Gazprom in the gas sector should definitely strengthen Algeria's breakthroughs not only in Europe but all over the world as well. Algeria's exports of energy, mostly gas, have increased by about $8 billion, hitting $54 billion last year. It is expected to hit about $60 billion by the end of the current year, which would encourage the Algerian authorities to desperately defend its national interests and, therefore, challenge the policies aiming to strike its future expansion plans.

                  Add to that the fact that Algeria is currently ranked third at the global level among gas-exporting countries, while Europe buys 70% of its needs from this Maghreb country. It is known that the EU countries store this gas in the pipelines, which extend from Algeria to Spain, Italy, Portuguese and other European countries. Minister of Energy and Mines Chakib Khelil and his colleague Foreign Minister Mohammed Bedjaoui do not conceal Algeria's intention to increase gas prices in the near future and that it holds negotiations with its customers, which constitutes part of Algeria's preemptive strategy set by the government at the end of last year.

                  According to these two officials, Algeria will not only content itself with following the regulations imposed by the global gas market, but it is also convinced of the need to use this card for goals beyond economy to affect foreign policy and the internal social situation. In this respect, there is talk about giving preferential prices to friendly countries, as was the case in the 1970s during the rule of late President Houari Boumediene. However, President Bouteflika always repeats to his visitors that the preservation of the interests and wealth of future generations has become an urgent necessity in this phase.

                  Algeria has been taking, for months, more clear and pragmatic stances with regard to energy. This is sometimes described by the Europeans as aggressiveness. Officials in Sonatrach respond to this description by arguing that these stands are a result of the objective facts associated with economic interests and change of strategy. In their opinion, the policy adopted to determine the price of gas, although in the past it used to take the political relations or the geographical proximity with a number of European countries into account, is now being taken more carefully in a different way before adopting appropriate decisions. However, some others see it as a form of the 'gas diplomacy', which has begun to play a key role, especially as Algeria is no longer willing to waste its resources or make concessions in this area.

                  In any case, it seems that this new strategy has begun to bear fruit. The evidence of this is that the French president-elect, Nicolas Sarkozy, addressed this issue while reviewing his future economic orientations, especially in relation to Gas de France. The official did not hesitate to call for the establishment of an exceptional partnership between the two countries in the energy sector, especially at the level of convergence between Gas de France and Sonatrach.

                  For Sarkozy, the issue does not absolutely mean dependence on Algeria's gas file, but to find the means to circumvent the 'excess offensive' of the Russian exporter. The French president-elect went further by promising that, in the event of his arrival at the Elysée Palace, he would propose serious assistance to Algeria in the field of nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes. Moscow made the same offer during President Vladimir Putin's visit to Algeria months ago.

                  All these facts confirm that Algeria has entered the stadium of the big players in the field of gas. It has also been able to push many parties, including the Europeans, the US and Russia, to vie for winning it over, which will allow it to strengthen its standpoints and access to knowledge through the transfer of technology in the field of energy.

                  Comment


                  • LONDON, May 9, 2007 (Thomson Financial) - Petrofac Ltd, the oil and gas facilities services provider, said it has secured a $US16 million contract with SonaHess, a joint venture between Algeria's state-owned Sonatrach and US energy producer Hess Corp.

                    Under the contract, Petrofac - through unit Petrofac Engineering & Construction (Europe) - will provide engineering and equipment supply and other services to SonaHess' El Gassi oil field in Algeria.

                    At 3.48 pm, Petrofac shares were down 1-1/2 pence at 452 pence.

                    Comment


                    • May 9, 2007 -- The Spanish Economy and Finance Minister, Mr. Pedro Solbes, on a visit to Algiers said today “Algeria and Spain should reach an acceptable solution” in their disagreement over gas prices sold by Sonatrach to Spanish Gas Natural.

                      Concerning this contract renegotiations, Mr. Solbes said, in a press conference, he held jointly with his Algerian counterpart, Mr. Mourad Medelci, “both countries are working on reaching a solution as soon as possible”

                      "We want to find a solution and we have great hopes in finding solutions," said Algerian Finance Minister Mr. Medelci.

                      Both sides started negotiating prices of 1/3 of the gas Algeria exports to Spain in a bid from Algeria to revise prices seen by Algeria as “very low” compared to prices imposed on world gas market.

                      Algeria envisages a 20% hike in two six-month steps, so as to limit the impact of the readjustment on the final Spanish consumer..

                      The Spanish Minister, on a one day visit has met Algerian Prime Minister, Mr. Abdelaziz Belkhadem.

                      Comment


                      • ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria and Spain expressed readiness on Wednesday to end a row over gas pricing after the North African country had said it wanted a 20 percent hike.

                        Algeria said last month it was negotiating the increase with Spain's dominant gas company Gas Natural.

                        The hike covers two existing contracts, which together supply 9 billion cubic metres a year of gas to Spain via a pipeline that runs through Morocco. Algeria also sells Spain liquefied natural gas (LNG).

                        Algian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said it would affect 30 percent of the gas used in Spain and would be a staged increase, perhaps every six months.

                        "Algeria and Spain should reach a solution that is acceptable by the two parties," visiting Spanish Economy Minister Pedro Solbes said on Wednesday.

                        "The two countries are working to reach a solution as soon as possible," Algerian official news agency APS quoted Solbes as adding after talks with Finance Minister Mourad Medelci.

                        "We are eager to find a solution and we have high hope that that solutions will be found," Medelci said.

                        Figures from gas association Sedigas show Spain consumed 35 billion cubic metres of gas last year, of which 32 percent came from Algeria. Some 24.5 of Spain's gas came from Algeria by pipeline and a further 7.5 percent by ship as LNG.

                        Gas usage has grown rapidly in Spain in recent years, boosted by major power companies like Endesa and Iberdrola opening new combined cycle plants.

                        Comment


                        • May 10, 2007 -- Statoil ASA is modifying its forecast for oil and gas production in 2007 to 1,150,000-1,200,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boe/d) based on an oil price of USD 60 per barrel, down from 1,300,000 boe/d.

                          The shortfall is largely caused by delayed ramp up of new fields and delays in projects and activities. As a direct consequence of reduced production, production costs per boe will increase to above NOK 30 per barrel/bbl for 2007.

                          The original target was based on successful deliveries from a number of technically demanding fields, first and foremost the two pioneering high temperature/high pressure (HT/HP) fields Kristin and Kvitebjّrn.

                          • As previously announced the production on the Kvitebjّrn field was temporarily shut down on 1 May, to allow for drilling of two further production wells. Production is expected to resume during the fourth quarter 2007

                          • On the Kristin field, the step up of production will be further delayed. Running up the wells has to be done cautiously to ensure stability in the reservoir. Completion during the winter season was slower than anticipated due to a combination of bad weather and technical challenges. Plateau production is expected to be reached towards the end of the third quarter of 2007.

                          • Additionally, the Volve project is slightly delayed owing to late arrival and modification of the rig. This field is now expected to commence production in the third quarter of 2007.

                          • Internationally, production build- up on the partner operated Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan has been slower than anticipated due to technical problems with the production wells. Build up of production from In Amenas in Algeria has been hampered by technical problems causing irregularities in the processing facilities.

                          To some extent the shortfall has been counteracted by increased gas production and export from other fields. However, market conditions and customer off-take will limit the extent to which such compensatory measures can be fully utilized.

                          The measures to improve drilling performance, put in place in late 2006, are paying off. Drilling of new production wells in the Tampen area has improved so far in 2007.

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                          • SINGAPORE, May 10 (Reuters) - Oil prices were steady at around $65 on Thursday, after falling the previous day on an unexpectedly high build in U.S. crude inventories.

                            Prices were supported by supply disruptions in Nigeria and the likelihood that OPEC will maintain its production cuts at its next meeting.

                            London Brent crude, currently more representative of the global market than U.S. prices, was up 16 cents at $65.36 a barrel by 0246 GMT, after a loss of 34 cents on Wednesday. U.S. crude for June delivery was 13 cents higher at $61.68 a barrel.

                            "The short-term focus is on the Nigeria situation and crude inventories in the U.S. and the market is quite range-bound," said Tetsu Emori, analyst at Mitsui Bussan Futures.

                            Weekly government data showed U.S. crude oil stocks increased by 5.6 million barrels last week, far exceeding analyst expectations for a rise of 400,000 barrels, due to high imports and muted demand from U.S. refiners.

                            Gasoline inventories also rose for the first time in 13 weeks ahead of peak summer demand, though the slight 400,000 barrel build was within market expectations.

                            The bearish inventory data overshadowed worries over supplies from Nigeria, where rebels took four American oil workers hostage on Wednesday, just a day after blowing up three oil pipelines belonging to Italy's Eni and halting production of 150,000 barrels per day (bpd).

                            The world's eighth largest oil exporter has seen about 28 percent of its supply disrupted, though the country's oil minister Edmund Daukoru said he expected the violence to subside by next month when a new president takes office.

                            Supplies from OPEC producers have been cut by agreed output curbs totalling 1.7 million bpd, though two OPEC ministers told Reuters they would not want to raise the group's production levels at its next meeting in September.

                            "I can say the market is saturated with oil," said Qatar's Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

                            Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil said the global oil market is currently oversupplied by about 200,000 bpd and that he would oppose any move to raise production.

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                            • Jeudi 10 Mai 2007 -- L’association Sonatrach et le consortium Total (France) et CEPSA (Espagne) annonce, dans un communiqué, une découverte de gaz dans le périmètre de Timimoun, dans le Sud-ouest algérien, au niveau du puits Irharène Sud-1. Une découverte qui s’ajoute à celle réalisée dans ce périmètre à Hassi Mahdjib et aux résultats positifs enregistrés aux puits de délinéation, Irharène-5 et Hassi Yakour-3. Selon ce communiqué, cette nouvelle découverte porte à huit le nombre de découvertes enregistrées par Sonatrach durant l’année en cours : cinq en association et trois en effort propre.

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                              • Analysis:

                                Africa, a continent largely written off by many Western governments and companies as hopelessly corrupt and socially dysfunctional has seen a dramatic increase in Chinese investment:

                                May 10, 2007 -- A recent visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Africa stands in stark contrast to President George W Bush's recent global peregrinations. Bush has visited Africa only once, in 2003. During the past year, China's leaders have visited 48 African nations.

                                Beginning in late January, Hu undertook a 12-day massive round of state visits to Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and the Seychelles, signing bilateral investments and strengthening ties.

                                Hu's visit to Africa is significant because it follows closely on the heels of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting held in Beijing in November 2006, at which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proposed that China and Africa should increase their cooperation and lift bilateral trade to US$100 billion by 2010. During the period 2000-2005, Chinese-African bilateral trade quadrupled to US$39.7 billion per year, while in 2006, Chinese-African trade soared 40 percent from the previous year, reaching US$55.5 billion.

                                Taking Africa by storm

                                If Jiabao's projections of bilateral trade by the end of the decade are realized, Chinese-African trade would be on a par with US-African trade, which in 2006 was valued at US$91 billion.

                                In Cameroon, Hu signed grants and loans worth around US$100 million. According to China's ambassador to Yaounde, trade between the two countries doubled in 2006 from the previous year to US$338 million.

                                In Liberia, Hu, accompanied by a 120-strong delegation, signed a number of agreements, including an agreement to waive 10 percent of Liberia's over US$50 million foreign debt to China and increase access to Chinese markets for Liberian products as well as technical and economic assistance agreements.

                                In Zambia, Hu focused on the country's mineral resources, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with President Levy Mwanawasa covering a wide range of sectors, including increased Chinese investment in the country's Copperbelt region. Zambia's copper industry, which was privatized in the 1990s, still accounts for most of the country's foreign earnings. Zambia is the first African country to have a Chinese multi-facility economic zone, located in Chambishi, whose projected US$800 million cost is underwritten by the Chinese business community and government.

                                In Mozambique, Hu along with President Armando Guebuza laid the cornerstone for a center for agricultural research and the transfer of Chinese technology to be built in Nampula province.

                                Hu's visit was not limited to agreements on raw materials, however; in Namibia the Chinese leader's delegation signed a contract between Namibia's Contract Haulage and China's state-owned First Automotive Works to produce automobiles for the domestic market. Namibian President Sam Nujoma said of the agreement, "The initiative complements our government's efforts to fast-track the industrialization of our national economy and enhance the living standards of all Namibians."

                                Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1998, by 2005 China has become South Africa's second-largest trading partner. The trade is lopsided, however; South African officials note that currently South Africa's investment in China of about US$400 million far exceeds current Chinese investment in South Africa.

                                Oil topped Hu's agenda in Sudan, the most controversial stop for the Chinese leader. Hu sidestepped the issue of Darfur in his talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and instead promised to cancel US$80 million in Sudanese debt to China, construct a new US$1.15 billion, 758-kilometer-long railway line linking Khartoum with Port Sudan and provide a US$13 million interest-free loan to construct a new presidential palace.

                                Al-Bashir and Hu signed seven agreements in all, including a US$4.48 million humanitarian aid assistance grant for Darfur.

                                While in Khartoum, Hu visited the 100,000-barrel-a-day Khartoum oil refinery near the village of Aljaili, just north of the capital, in which the China National Petroleum Corp has a 50 percent stake. Since 2000, Chinese investment in Sudanese oil production and pipelines has allowed the country's crude output to rise more than 500,000 barrels a day, with Sudan now supplying China with about 8 percent of its oil.

                                In relentless pursuit of hydrocarbons

                                China's interest in Africa is overwhelmingly driven by its interest in exports, particularly of hydrocarbons. According to the International Monetary Fund, oil accounts for 99 percent of Sudanese exports, with China accounting for 65 percent of total Sudanese exports. Energy is Angola's sole export hard currency earner, with China now accounting for 35 percent of Angolan exports. In 2006, Chinese-Angolan trade reached an annual turnover of US$11 million.

                                In its relentless pursuit of African hydrocarbons, China is also receiving oil from Angola, Chad, Gabon and Nigeria. Africa now supplies one-third of China's oil imports. According to Chinese government statistics, in November 2006, Sudan was China's fourth-largest source of crude imports, while bilateral trade for January-November 2006 stood at US$2.9 billion, behind only South Africa and Angola. China has been involved in the Sudanese petrochemical industry since November 1996 and the China National Petroleum Corporation now has 20 projects in nine African countries.

                                CNPC's most recent African energy venture dates from last November, when it began drilling the Saha-1 wildcat well at its Tenere block in Niger, where previous operators have come up dry. In September 2006, CNPC also started exploration and development projects in Algeria and Mauritania.

                                CNPC is also expanding its presence beyond sub-Saharan Africa to the Magreb. Four months ago, Sonatrach's Abdelhafidh Feghouli and CNPC vice president Zhou Jiping signed a cooperation agreement during a state visit by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to China. CNPC is interested in building a 15-million-tonne per year greenfield refinery at Tiaret in western Algeria. In May 2005, the company won a US$385 million contract to build Sonatrach's 5-million-tonne per year condensate oil refinery in Skikda province. On a cultural level, China and Egypt have agreed to establish the Confucius Institute in Egypt's Cairo University.

                                Hu's recent visit was his second to the continent in just nine months and the third since he assumed office in 2003.

                                Another policy divergence has been noted on the African continent. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced during congressional testimony on 6 February that the US military would establish a separate US Africa Command to oversee military operations on the African continent, and now more than 3,000 Chinese forces are involved in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, in Liberia and Sudan. In January, Beijing announced that it was sending 435 troops to Sudan to replace its peacekeepers first deployed there in May 2006.

                                Since 1956, China has provided educational assistance to 50 African nations, bringing 18,000 Africans to study in China on scholarships while building laboratory facilities at 21 African universities. China now has diplomatic relations with 48 out of the 53 countries on the African continent, with approximately 800 Chinese firms operating there. Since 2002, Chinese-African trade has tripled, while Beijing has cultivated extensive personal ties by training over 6,000 African civil servants and are sending more than 15,000 Chinese doctors to 34 African countries.

                                Another broad area due for improvement following FOCAC initiatives is tourism.

                                After the Second Ministerial FOCAC Conference in 2003, Uganda, Madagascar, Botswana, the Kingdom of Lesotho, Namibia and Ghana acquired the Chinese government's approved destination status (ADS) for Chinese tourists, which after the November 2006 FOCAC meeting was extended to Algeria, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Gabon, Rwanda, Mali, Mozambique, Benin and Nigeria, for a total of 26 ADS countries in Africa.....

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