* GDF Suez and Algeria to develop Touat gas field
* Group to invest $1.5 billion, has 65 pct stake
By Marie Maitre
PARIS, July 7 France's GDF Suez GSZ.PA and Algerian state energy group Sonatrach said on Tuesday they will jointly develop the Touat gas field in southwest Algeria with the aim of starting production in 2013.
"Work will begin in 2009 with the start of output planned for 2013. Peak production should reach about 4.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year", they said in a joint statement.
The development of Touat represents and investment of $1.5 billion for GDF Suez, said Jean-Marie Dauger, executive vice president of GDF Suez in charge of the global gas and LNG business line, during a telephone conference.
GDF Suez holds 65 percent of the licence and Sonatrach the remainder.
Reserves in the Touat gasfield are estimated at 445 million barrels of petrol equivalent and GDF Suez said its share would reach 110 million barrels.
The production plateau should last at least eight and a half years and production itself should last until 2030-2033, Dauger added.
Sonatrach and GDF Suez will jointly operate the Touat project, which comprises the development of 10 fields in a three kilometre square area and the drilling of around forty production wells.
"It's a major project for GDF Suez as it's the first time the group produces gas in Algeria," said Jean-François Cirelli, the firm's vice president.
Algeria is one of the main long-term suppliers of GDF SUEZ which is the largest buyer of Sonatrach's liquefied natural gas.
At the end of 2008, 23 percent of GDF Suez's long-term supplies came from Norway, 15 percent from the Netherlands, 14 perecnt from Russia, 12 percent from the Middle East and Asia, 11 percent from Algeria, 8 percent from Trinidad and Tobago, 6 percent from Egypt, 4 percent from the United Kingdom, 2 percent from Libya and 5 percent from other countries. (Additional reporting by Benjamin Mallet, Writing by Sophie Taylor, editing by Marcel Michelson)