‘Our ambition is to increase production to 2 million b/d by 2010 from 1.4 million b/d today, and we are on track to do this,’ Khelil said. Algeria’s proven oil reserves stood at 11,800 million barrels at the end of 2004, Africa’s third largest, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2005. The country’s oil fields produce light crude with low sulphur content.

Plans have also been drawn up for the gas sector, Khelil said. ‘We want to increase gas production to 85,000 million cubic metres a year by 2010.’ The minister said that 13 oil and gas discoveries were made in 2004, and six more have been made to date in 2005.

In addition, Algeria intends to broaden its hydrocarbons product offering, Khelil said. ‘We need to invest more in LNG [liquefied natural gas] plants and natural gas facilities. And we want to diversify our exports. There is a lot more emphasis on petrochemicals than before… and we are looking at GTL [gas to liquids] in order to diversify away from LNG. GTL is now what LNG was in 1964, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity.’

The plans fit within a broader, three-pronged strategy for the development of the country’s energy sector, the minister said. ‘First, our aim is to satisfy the needs of our population in terms of petroleum products, electricity, natural gas and continuity and quality of supply. Second, we want to increase our exports of oil, gas and even electricity. And we want to develop Algeria’s global participation in oil and gas and in the energy sector.’