Sonatrach’s first unit, a methane facility in Arzew known as ‘the Camel’, was built with British co-operation in 1964. Since then other liquefaction facilities have been built in Arzew, Bethioua and Skikda, which also houses a large refining unit.
Yamina Hamdi, Vice-President of Commercial Activit, explains: “We export natural gas to our neighbours Tunisia and Morocco by pipeline; we also export a lot of LPG to Egypt, one of our largest customers.
“We even export LNG to Asia and South America, and we export it to India, Taiwan, Japan, all the Asian countries... In the case of natural gas, Sonatrach is one of the major players on the international market. We have been pioneers in the field of liquefaction and established some of the first units, enabling us to export LNG to any part of the world; two more units will soon enter into production, one in Skikda at the end of the year, and one in Arzew in 2013...”
The company intends to increase its exports of natural gas to 100 billion cubic metres by 2015, up 60 per cent from current levels, by attracting more foreign investment and financing infrastructure development. Deliveries from the Skikda LNG plant presently under construction, and from another LNG export plant at Arzew will begin at approximately the same time in 2013-14. Meanwhile US-based engineering company KBR Inc. is building a 4.5 million-ton-a-year export plant, fully financed by Sonatrach.