Algeria to double helium output

Algerian state-owned oil and gas firm Sonatrach said on 31 January that it plans to build a second helium facility expected to double the country“s output to 1.2 billion cu. ft. per year in 2004.
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Algerian state-owned oil and gas firm Sonatrach said on 31 January that it plans to build a second helium facility expected to double the country“s output to 1.2 billion cu. ft. per year in 2004. The projected plant, with a designed annual capacity of 600 million cu. ft., would be set up in the country“s main oil and gas export hub of Skikda, 510 km east of Algiers, a senior Sonatrach official said. Sonatrach“s existing helium unit, Helios, is based in the western port of Arzew and is owned in a joint-venture with France“s Air Liquide and US-based Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Algeria, a major world gas producer, is Europe“s main helium supplier with 75% of the continent“s needs coming from Helios, according to official figures. The new project is due to be completed within two years, the Sonatrach official said. He named possible contenders including Air Liquide, Air Products and Chemicals Inc, Germany“s Linde and Messer, and Britain“s BOC . The new plant would be operated by a joint venture with 51% of its capital owned by Sonatrach and the remaining by the selected partner.