ALGERIA produces more than a 10 million barrels of oil a day, making it the ninth largest OPEC producer and the 17th worldwide.

It is also a major gas producer, and exports over 50 percent of its crude [90 percent of it to Western Europe]] and 60% of its gas.

Hydrocarbons account for 60 percent of national revenue, 30 percent of gross domestic product [GDP] and 95 percent of export earnings. 

What a prize - and all of it under a threat.

ALGERIA is a land rich in natural resources, and where there is wealth, corruption, and greed often follows.

Amid the political uncertainty following the removal of Abdelaziz Bouteflika after 20 years as president and the continuing  protests demanding a change to the political system, analysts believe that  there is little ground for a group that specialises in both - Muslim Brotherhood.

''Part of the Muslim Brotherhood plan is to control vital targets - and they have long eyed energy resources in this region, and attempted to take control,'' said Hajjaj Bou Khaddour, a Kuwaiti energy expert.

Bouteflika is down. But the demonstrations persist.

The plan is to cause a complete overhaul of the system, and that means they want to change everything, not only in politics, but also in terms of vital departments in the government and its related entities, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Should that happen, it would destabilize the most profitable sector in the country.

 The International Energy Agency gave assurances last month that Algeria's oil production was not affected by the political tension, but Bou Khaddour believes that could all quickly change.

''The current situation in Algeria is vague and unclear. I do believe there may be further escalation,'' he said.

Meanwhile it appears to be business as usual as the state-run oil and gas company Sonatrach, which just recently signed two multi-million dollar onshore  contracts with a rig contractor.

There are, however, signs that all is not well. Two major deals involving Sonatrach have recently fallen through , one of them a majority shareholding in Greece's biggest refiner.

The Greek government blamed  ''recent developments in the international environment and reasons related to shortlisted parties, one of which was Sonatrach. [Agencies]


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