Algeria intends to increase its crude oil output by more than 50 percent by 2004, said Algerian Energy and Mining Minister Shakib Khelil in an interview published Monday by the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES).
"The Algerian government is planning to increase crude oil output capacity from its present level of 900,000 to 1.4 million barrels per day", said Khelil who also referred to reforms coming in Algeria's hydrocarbon sector.
"The complaint of companies has been that contracts and development programs have been delayed", Khelil told MEES.
"My target is to double the number of companies operating in Algeria over the next five years", he added.
A former petroleum adviser at the World Bank, Khelil said he drew from his experience in the monetary institution to "come up with the best model" for Algeria's hydrocarbon reform.
The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the Algerian economy, accounting for roughly 52 percent of budget revenues, 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and over 95 percent of export earnings, according to the CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency) World Fact Book.
In an effort to adapt his country's economy to globalization, Khelil explained he hoped reforms would "increase the revenues of the state and diversify revenues by relying more, or fundamentally, on the private sector to lead the effort, to be the motor of growth in Algeria".
"If we don't restructure ourselves, we are going to be missing the boat again as we did in 1975", he told the Nicosia-based periodical.
Khelil, who hopes reforms in the hydrocarbon, mining and electricity sectors will be in place by the end of 2001, also said the reforms, which MEES called "the most innovative in the Middle East", were aimed at creating value in companies that have been sleeping on their assets.
The government thus intends to reduce oil companies' borrowing from the State, relieving some of the strain on the government debt. Algeria's economy has been burdened by external debt, estimated today at 30 billion US dollars -- NICOSIA (AFP)
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