August 9, 2018 / 2:01 PM / 12 days ago

Sonatrach in talks with 14 foreign firms on trading venture -CEO

BEJAIA, Algeria (Reuters) - Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach is in talks with 14 international firms for a joint venture to trade oil and gas products after agreeing to buy its first overseas refinery, its CEO said on Thursday.

Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, Chief Executive of Algerian state energy firm Sonatrach, checks equipment during the launch of new gas pipeline from southwestern fields, Algeria, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lamine Chikhi

“I am happy to say that 14 firms are on the list to do a JV on trading with us,” Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour told reporters during a visit to the port city of Bejaia, without giving details or names.

The trading JV will also include gas sales.

Potential partners, which have held talks with Sonatrach in recent weeks, include BP, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Repsol and Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, sources told Reuters last month.

Sonatrach’s move to form a venture is one of several steps aimed at easing the burden of its hefty fuel import bill that tripled year-on-year in 2017 to a record $2.5 billion.

Sonatrach earlier this year reached a deal to buy Exxon Mobil’s 175,000 barrel-per-day Augusta refinery in Sicily.

Kaddour also said Sonatrach had received a request from Exxon Mobile to work on petrochemicals.

“They want to do business with us on petrochemicals, this is good news because Sonatrach has become more attractive,” he said, without giving details.

Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Ulf Laessing/David Evans

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