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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Algeria's Sonatrach Prepares to Explore for Gas in Russia

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Algeria's Sonatrach is preparing to participate in four gas exploration deals in Russia under a cooperation accord between the two countries, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said Sunday.

He said gas monopoly Gazprom had offered the Algerian energy conglomerate a choice of exploration rights involving eight hydrocarbon fields under an asset swap made possible by the cooperation agreement signed by Russia and Algeria in August 2006.

"Gazprom has made its offer of assets exchange," Khristenko told reporters on a visit to the North African OPEC member country. "Algeria has selected four fields and is working out its offers."

In August, Gazprom and Sonatrach agreed to cooperate in the liquefied natural gas business, upstream asset swaps, and joint bidding for assets in third countries.

On Saturday, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil sought to ease concerns in the European Union that an accord between its two biggest suppliers of the fuel would increase prices and denied that his country's planned natural gas alliance with Russia would become a cartel.

"It is very complicated to talk about an OPEC for gas,'' Khelil told reporters after a meeting with Khristenko in Algiers. "The oil market is liquid, the gas market is regional and rigid.''

(Reuters, Bloomberg)