Algeria's Sonatrach hopes for Exxon Mobil deal on shale gas

IN SALAH, Algeria (Reuters) - Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach is seeking cooperation with Exxon Mobil Corp on shale gas “and more”, Sonatrach’s chief executive said on Thursday.

The Exxon Mobil gas station in Denver, Colorado United States July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, who was visiting the southern In Salah gas field, did not elaborate.

Exxon was not immediately available for comment.

The OPEC oil producer plans to explore shale gas reservoirs deep in the south but needs foreign expertise and the support of the local population, whose protests in 2015 stopped earlier productions attempts.

To win over locals, Kaddour visited three Sufi Muslim institutions, or Zaouia, in the gas region of In Salah to discuss with their leaders ways to convince people to endorse shale exploration.

Sufism is mainstream in Algeria’s south.

Residents have protested against Sonatrach’s plans, saying they are too risky and damaging to the environment.

Kaddour gave details of his long term strategy named “SH 2030” targeting $67 billion of additional revenues by 2030 of which 50 percent will be reinvested.

He said Sonatrach will boost discoveries to reach 100 million tonnes of oil equivalent per year.

“We will also boost reserves to reach 2 million tonnes of oil equivalent,” a second Sonatrach official said.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Dale Hudson and Alexandra Hudson