Gas exporter Algeria is planning to start its first shale gas exploration in early 2012, the head of state energy firm Sonatrach was quoted as saying . Algeria sees shale gas projects -- employing new technology to access gas that was previously too difficult to extract -- as a way of finding new reserves to replace existing fields where production will start to decline in the next few years.
"The pilot exploration for shale gas will be launched at the start of 2012 in the south-west region of the country," Nouredine Cherouati was quoted by the official APS news agency as saying. "Different studies have reported a large potential of shale gas in the country," he said.
Cherouati said memorandums of understanding had been signed with international companies for the purpose, but did not name them. Italy's Eni earlier this year signed an agreement with Sonatrach to help carry out shale gas exploration operations.