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Algeria aims to triple LNG exports to US

Algiers: Algerian state-owned energy group Sonatrach, a leading gas supplier to Europe, will triple liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to the United States to 12 billion cubic metres by 2010, the company's chief executive said yesterday.

Mohammad Meziane told state radio the target would be reached after the completion of two big projects in the North African country, which are likely to help boost national gas output capacity by 12 billion cubic metres. The country produces both natural gas and LNG.

"We are present in the American market with about four billion cubic metres. The volume will reach between 10 billion and 12 billion cubic metres of natural gas, in the form of LNG," he told the radio in an interview.

Algeria hopes to construct on time a big gas project known as Gassi Touil being developed by Spain's Repsol YPF and Gas Natural.

Repsol and partner Gas Natural have reported technical difficulties in developing the $3 billion project in Algeria's southern desert, which involves exploration and extraction, plus building a liquefaction terminal to process the gas for export.

The country is also rebuilding two gas units at a complex at the port city of Skikda after being destroyed by a fire in 2004.

Sonatrach produces a total of about 62 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

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