Algeria energy export volumes down 2.8 pct in first quarter -ministry

ALGIERS, Sept 18 (Reuters) - OPEC member Algeria’s oil and gas export volumes fell 2.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, weakened by a drop in output and higher domestic consumption, the energy ministry said.

Algeria has struggled to boost its production and sales of energy, the main source of income, accounting for 60 percent of the budget and 94 percent of total exports.

Overall oil and gas exports reached 27.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the first three months, the ministry said in the latest edition of its magazine “Algeria Energy”, received by Reuters on Tuesday.

Volumes of crude oil exports declined 8.9 percent in the first quarter, while sales of natural gas and condensate rose 1.2 percent and 17.7 percent respectively.

Overall oil and gas output reached 44.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent, a 0.9 percent decline from the first quarter of 2017.

Crude oil and condensate production fell 4.1 percent, while natural gas production rose 1.4 percent.

Refined products output rose 4.4 percent to 8.2 million tonnes.

The energy ministry had expected full-year energy production to grow 6.5 percent after a 2.7 percent fall in 2017.

Investment in the energy sector dropped 9.9 percent to $2.4 billion in the first three months of 2018, the magazine said.

Algeria has been preparing amendments to its energy law to introduce incentives and attract more foreign investors, who have largely stayed away in recent years.

Energy earnings rose 16 percent to $9.7 billion in the first quarter of 2018 due to a recovery in the price of crude oil on global markets, it said.

Growing consumption in the North African country of 41 million people also contributed to the decline in energy export volumes.

Overall energy consumption rose 7.1 percent to 16.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent in the first three months of 2018, the ministry said. Natural gas consumption was up 9.9 percent to 12.8 billion cubic metres. (Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed Editing by Ulf Laessing and David Evans)