Total’s rapid Algeria expansion over the last two years was dealt a huge blow on 4 December when Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab said state-oil giant Sonatrach would pre-empt the sale of Occidental’s (Oxy) ex-Anadarko Algeria assets to the French major.

Total had agreed with Oxy to take Anadarko’s Africa assets in an $8.8bn side-deal to Oxy's $57bn purchase of the smaller US firm (MEES, 10 May). The “jewel” of the deal, a 26.5% operator’s stake in the $20bn 12.9mn t/y Mozambique LNG project closed in September (MEES, 1 November) and discussions with the authorities in Ghana are ongoing, but Algeria was always going to be a challenge. (CONTINUED - 1041 WORDS)