Algeria on 15 September started construction of a new $3bn, 5mn tons/year (100,000 b/d) refinery near the city of Biskra 300km southeast of Algiers: the first of four new plants totalling 400,000 b/d set to come onstream by 2017. The Biskra plant will produce 500,000 t/y (11,600 b/d) of gasoline, 220,000 t/y (7,000 b/d) of LPG and 169,000 t/y (3,600 b/d) of Kerosene, according to energy minister Youcef Yousfi, speaking at the launch. Three further plants of “similar” configuration are slated to come onstream by 2017. These will be in Ghardaia, Tiaret and Hassi Messaoud, Mr Yousfi said. Work on these has yet to begin. The latest pronouncement fleshes out a statement by Sonatrach CEO ‘Abd al-Hamid Zerguine earlier this year that the state owned company would build “three or four” new refineries over the “short to medium term.”

Hassi Messaoud, 400km to the south of Biskra, is the site of a small existing refinery as well as Algeria’s largest oilfield (the 300,000 b/d-plus field of the same name). Although Algeria has not disclosed the likely crude source for the Biskra refinery the key OB1 crude pipeline linking Hassi Messaoud with the port of Skikda passes Biskra. Tiaret was the site of earlier plans for a new 300,000 b/d plant (MEES, 1 March 2010). (CONTINUED - 503 WORDS)