Maghreb energy project activity doubles

12 July 2023


The total value of active oil, gas and chemical projects in the Maghreb region has more than doubled since the start of 2021 amid increased energy demand from Europe in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia’s energy project markets have all expanded, according to data collected by MEED Projects.

Libya has seen a slight contraction, but appears to have laid the foundation for a steady increase in activity as long as it can maintain a degree of political stability.

The total value of all active oil, gas and chemical projects across all four countries stands at $90.8bn, more than double the figure recorded in January 2020, when the total was just $43.9bn.

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, European nations have made a significant effort to support oil and gas projects in Libya and Algeria in the hope of paving the way for increased imports that can be used as an alternative to Russian hydrocarbons.

Additionally, Morocco, home to the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, has increasingly been identified as a promising location for producing green hydrogen and fertiliser projects.

More on Algeria’s oil, gas and chemicals sectors:

> TotalEnergies signs Algeria gas deal
> Chinese contractor signs Algerian petrochemical deal
> Repsol and Pertamina sign Sonatrach oil deal
 Banks provide financing for Algeria chemicals plant
> Petrofac signs $1.5bn Algerian petrochemicals deal
> Contractors bid for Algeria chemicals plant
Algeria seeks upstream oil and gas consultants


In terms of oil, gas and petrochemicals projects, Algeria is by far the region’s largest projects market, with $43.1bn in energy projects.

The North African country has seen a 45 per cent increase in the total value of active oil, gas and chemical projects since the start of 2021, according to MEED Projects.

Algeria’s energy project expansion has been mainly driven by gas projects, with the total value of all active gas projects more than doubling from $10.8bn in January 2021 to $22bn in June 2023.

Chemical and oil project activity has also risen significantly, growing by 12.2 per cent and 10.7 per cent, respectively.

Despite years of poor maintenance at some of its biggest oil and gas fields, the country is taking advantage of its extensive gas reserves, its geographical proximity to Europe, and Europe’s need for alternatives to Russian gas exports.

European officials have repeatedly visited Algeria, seeking to help boost Algerian production and secure increased gas imports.

In January, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called Algeria Rome’s “most stable, strategic and long-standing” partner in North Africa when she wrapped up a two-day visit aimed at securing Italy’s energy supplies and promoting her plan for investment in the continent.

On 23 January, the Italian international oil and gas company Eni announced that it would study joint projects with Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach to improve the country’s energy export capacity.

In August 2022, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, also travelled to Algeria as it became increasingly clear that Algerian gas imports would provide a key role in Europe’s energy mix.

Algeria has also secured higher prices for gas transported to Spain, where it supplied 25 per cent of the country’s gas deliveries in January, more than any other supplier.

In January, Sonatrach announced plans to invest more than $30bn in exploration and production to boost the country’s natural gas output.

The funds will also be spent on upgrading infrastructure to export gas from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and by pipelines to Europe, according to the company’s chief executive Toufik Hakkar.

Hakkar said that Algeria wants to become one of the world’s most important sources of natural gas through Sonatrach and its planned investments.

Amid the increased demand for Algerian energy, there has been a series of major announcements regarding new projects and contracts in the country.

These include the announcement that UK-based Petrofac had signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for an estimated $1.5bn Algerian petrochemicals project.

Petrofac has partnered with China Huanqiu Contracting & Engineering Corporation, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, for the Step Polymers project, which is due to be developed in the Arzew Industrial Zone to the west of Algiers.

At the end of 2022, Algeria revived phase two of the Touat natural gas field development project.

The project is estimated to be worth $1bn and is being developed by Groupement TouatGaz, a partnership between Sonatrach and London-based Neptune Energy.

The project scope includes the development of 19 wells, the construction of a gas treatment plant and the installation of pipelines.

In November last year, Sonatrach signed a series of contracts with the Italian contractors Tecnimont and Arkad, as well as local contractors, in a push to develop its hydrocarbons sector.

The contracts, all signed at a single ceremony, were worth more than $660m.

The contracts included one worth AD56bn ($400m) with Tecnimont for a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) facility at its Rhourde el-Baguel oil field.

The plant is expected to process 10 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) of associated gas, producing 1,000 tonnes a day (t/d) of LPG, 300 t/d of condensate and 8.7 million cm/d of gas.

More on Libya’s oil, gas and chemicals sectors:

> Libya has potential for energy project surge
> Libyan pipeline contract awarded
> Libyan oil company in pipeline procurement talks
 Libya’s Waha Oil plans water plant
> Halliburton in talks for $1bn Libya oil project
> UK delegation to meet Libyan oil officials
Eni signs gas deal in Libya


Like Algeria, Libya has extensive hydrocarbon reserves and existing export routes, making it a good candidate for replacing Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe.

While the total value of active oil, gas and chemical projects in the country declined by 14.5 per cent to $9.7bn between the start of 2021 and June 2023, its energy projects market holds the potential to expand significantly over the coming months if there is no decline in the security situation.

Libya pipeline can boost Europe gas exports

Since the start of the Ukraine war, a series of major oil and gas deals have been signed in the country. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has ramped up tendering under the leadership of Farhat Omar Bengdara, appointed in July last year.

In January, NOC announced a partnership with Italy’s Eni to develop two regions containing expected gas reserves of 6 trillion cubic feet with an estimated production capacity of 750 million cubic feet a day (cf/d) of gas for 25 years.

NOC chairman Bengdara and Eni chairman Claudio Descalzi signed the deal. The Italian company said the agreement would generate between $7bn and $9bn of investment into the country’s oil and gas industry.

In March, it was announced that a subsidiary of NOC had signed a contract with US-based Honeywell for engineering work on the planned South Refinery project in Libya.

Zallaf Oil & Gas Company said in a statement that the project would be carried out in two phases and is expected to cost between $500m and $600m.

Libya’s Waha Oil Company is in advanced talks with US-based Halliburton over a $1bn project to rehabilitate the country’s Al-Dhara oil field.

The oil field in central Libya has suffered from years of poor maintenance and was sabotaged by Islamic State militants in 2015.

If the contract is signed soon, it could help provide a significant boost to Libyan oil exports and send a signal to other international oil companies that are wary about investing in the country due to concerns about security.

More on Tunisia and Morocco’s oil, gas and chemicals sectors:

> Tunisia gas pipeline to complete before 2024
> Tunisia tenders study for refinery project
> Tunisia receives gas transmission bids
 Morocco fertiliser project progresses towards approval
> Nigeria to invest $12.5bn in Morocco pipeline
> Genel in talks to develop Moroccan oil assets
Design completed for Moroccan gas project

Tunisia and Morocco

The dynamics in the energy projects sector in Tunisia and Morocco are different from those in Libya and Algeria because they lack the same large volumes of hydrocarbon reserves.

While Tunisia has more than doubled the value of active oil, gas and chemical projects within its borders since the start of 2021, it remains the Maghreb’s smallest energy project market.

As of 20 June 2023, it had just $1.7bn in energy projects, according to data compiled by MEED Projects.

While Morocco also lacks large volumes of hydrocarbons, it has seen a significant expansion in gas and petrochemicals projects.

The North African country is currently evaluating bids for a floating LNG import terminal in Mohammedia Port that is estimated to be worth $200m.

A project estimated to be worth $190m is also ongoing to develop the country’s offshore Anchois gas field.

The major driver of growth in the country’s chemical projects market has been phosphate fertiliser projects and green hydrogen and ammonia schemes.

In December 2022, it was announced that Total Eren, affiliated with France’s TotalEnergies, was planning to construct a hydrogen and green ammonia plant in Morocco estimated to be worth about $10bn.

Main image: View of Skikda Port, Algeria
Wil Crisp
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