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Algeria will not allow French Total to acquire Anadarko’s assets in the North African country, Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab told media on Sunday, as quoted by Reuters.
The deal for the acquisition—valued at US$8.8 billion—was made by Total and Occidental petroleum during the bidding war with Chevron for Anadarko. The deal was contingent on Oxy winning that war, which it did in early May.
However, Algeria’s government had not been consulted on the matter and is now ready to exercise its pre-emption right, according to Arkab.
“Our ministry has contacted Anadarko to get explanations on this information, but so far we got no answer,” he said. “It means there is no contract between Total and Anadarko ...We have good relations with Anadarko and we will do the utmost to preserve Algeria’s interests, including using our pre-emption right to block the sale.”
Total already has a presence in Algeria and last year it signed a series of new agreements with Algeria’s Sonatrach for the development of new fields. However, as Reuters points out, Algerian-French relations are not the friendliest after the bloody independence war in Algeria from the 1950s.
For Total, however, the acquisition of Anadarko’s portfolio in Algeria, which totals some 260,000 bpd, is a “perfect fit” with its priorities, CEO Patrick Pouyanne said earlier this month.
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“What we tell to investors is we play to our strengths. What are the strengths of Total? It is the Middle East, Africa, North Sea, Deep Water. ... It is just fitting exactly and perfectly with what we announced,” Pouyanne said commenting on the deal with Occidental.
“In fact...we have been looking at these assets more than a year. We have had some discussions before with Anadarko. It was not a lot of creativity to fix that these assets are not very well fitting for upstream and that there was a potential match between Oxy and Total.”
The share in Algerian production that the Anadarko assets account for is more than a quarter: Algeria pumps about a million barrels daily.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.