April 4, 2016 / 12:15 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Algeria's energy output slips 1.3 pct in 2015, exports flat

* Natural gas output down 1 pct

* Crude, condensate fall 2.8 pct

* Energy consumption still on the rise

* Algeria struggles to attract foreign investors (Adds details, figures)

By Hamid Ould Ahmed

ALGIERS, April 4 (Reuters) - Algeria’s energy exports stagnated in 2015, held back by lower output and a rise in domestic consumption, official data seen by Reuters on Monday showed.

Total energy sales reached 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent, unchanged from the previous year, while production declined 1.3 percent to 153 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

The North African OPEC member, a major gas supplier to Europe, is trying to increase oil and gas production, which has stagnated for a decade. But foreign oil companies remain reluctant to invest because of Algeria’s contract terms and the drop in world oil prices.

Energy sales make up 60 percent of the state budget and account for 95 percent of Algeria’s total exports despite efforts to diversify the economy away from oil and gas.

The country relies on earnings from the energy sector to pay for its imports and a wide range of subsidies, from food and fuel to free housing.

However, public finances have been hit since crude oil prices started falling in June 2014, forcing the government to freeze several economic projects.

Its foreign exchange reserves, which are usually used to cover deficits, fell $35 billion in 2015 to $143 billion, while its trade deficit reached $13.71 billion in 2015, reversing a $4.306 billion surplus in the previous year.

It has failed to reverse a decline in oil and gas output due to a lack of foreign investment in recent years.

Crude oil and condensate production fell 2.8 percent to 58.9 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2015, while natural gas output dropped 1 percent to 82.5 billion cubic metres, according to the data.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) production declined 7.6 percent to 27 million cubic metres. Oil refined products output dropped 4.6 percent to 29.3 million tonnes.

Petroleum liquefied gas output rose 2 percent to 9.6 million tonnes in 2015, the data showed.

Algeria has launched a campaign to reduce domestic energy consumption but demand is still on the rise.

Demand for oil refined products, mainly gasoline and diesel oil, rose 5.5 percent to 18.3 million tonnes, while natural gas consumption increased by 5 percent to 39.5 billion cubic metres.

Demand for electricity rose 8 percent last year. (Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Patrick Markey and Susan Fenton)

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