February 12, 2020 / 9:02 PM / 2 months ago

Algeria says BP did not ask to sell its In Amenas gas stake

ALGIERS (Reuters) - BP has written to Algeria to express its interest in investing in its oil sector and has not made any request to sell its shares in the In Amenas gas plant, state news agency APS quoted Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab as saying on Wednesday.

Reuters last week reported three industry sources as saying that BP Plc was seeking buyers for its stake in the gas plant, deep in the Sahara desert, after recent talks on a sale to Russian oil giant Rosneft failed.

“BP did not send any request to sell its shares in Tiguentourine’s plant in Amenas,” APS reported Arkab as saying in the first official comment on the report in Algeria.

The sources said BP hopes to raise around $2 billion from the sale of its 45.89% stake in In Amenas, the target of a deadly attack by Islamist militants in 2013. The sale is part of a $15 billion disposal program BP is targeting by the middle of 2021, two of the sources said.

Algeria relies on energy export revenue for a large chunk of its state budget and foreign currency earnings, but production and sales have been falling for several years.

In December it passed a law aimed at making it easier for international energy companies to invest in the hydrocarbons industry in the hopes of boosting output, though it kept a bar on majority foreign ownership of projects in the sector.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; writing by Angus McDowall; editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler

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