Algerias state-owned energy giant plans to invest $80bn by 2016
CEO: Abdelhamid Zerguine
Tel: (+213) 2 154 8011
Sonatrach began life 50 years ago as Algerias first state-owned energy company, taking control of the small stakes the government had in the countrys oil fields, which were operated by French and American firms, and helping to establish the North African state as the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world.
Following the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Sonatrach nationalised the countrys refining and export facilities, later taking over a minimum stake of 51 per cent of Algerias oil and gas fields a process that at one stage meant Frances Total was the only major international oil company (IOC) operating in the country.
From the mid-1980s onwards, Sonatrach began to work with IOCs on a number of major projects, including a series of huge gas production and export schemes that have helped to make Algeria one of the worlds most important gas exporters. The country is home to the worlds eighth-largest gas reserves, but gas production has been in decline since 2005.
Sonatrach has been hit by both scandal and tragedy in recent years. In 2010, the companys longtime chief executive officer Mohamed Meziane was abruptly sacked and charged with corruption.
A deadly terrorist attack in 2013 on the firms In Amenas facility then led to questions being asked about security at its production sites.
Role in Algerias economy
Oil and gas exports are crucial to Algerias economy, accounting for more than 98 per cent of all exports, and hence the majority of the countrys foreign currency reserves. More than two thirds of all government revenues come from the hydrocarbons sector.
Much of Algerias non-oil growth is driven by state spending, making the money earned by Sonatrach doubly important.
The firm is also Algerias primary economic brand. It is the biggest company in Algeria and Africa, earning revenues of $58bn in 2011. Sonatrach employs about 120,000 workers, the vast majority of whom are Algerians.
Role in the global economy
Algeria was the worlds sixth-largest exporter of natural gas in 2012, and the 15th-biggest oil exporter. The bulk of its oil and gas is sold to European markets, meaning Sonatrach is a particularly important partner for the eurozone countries and plays a key role in maintaining the balance of the global gas market.
Sonatrach plans to spend $80bn between 2012 and 2016, much of that on exploration for new upstream gas production and on using enhanced production techniques to maintain and increase output from existing facilities. The company also hopes to revamp its refineries at Skikda, Arzew and Algiers.
Sonatrach is well on its way to becoming an international player, with investments in France, Portugal, Spain and Peru, mainly in gas transportation infrastructure and power plants. It is also exploring for oil and gas in Africa; the company has concessions in Libya, Mali, Mauritania and Tunisia.
Sonatrach is well on its way to becoming an international player, with investments in France, Portugal, Spain and Peru