Eni and Sonatrach to develop more solar projects in Algeria

Italy’s oil giant Eni and Algeria’s Sonatrach, a state-owned company specializing in the exploitation of hydrocarbon resources, announced they are expanding their joint activities in the solar energy sector.

In particular, the two companies are now identifying areas in which to build solar power plants in Sonatrach’s production sites in Algeria. The first step of this expanded cooperation will be the realization of feasibility studies in the selected sites, and the elaboration of a business model for the projects. No more details were provided on individual projects and their combined capacity.

“Today we confirm our engagement in promoting a sustainable development in Algeria, as an integral part of our energy transition strategy aimed at increasing the use of energy from renewable sources. We also want to intensify our partnership with Sonatrach with new projects, in Algeria as well as abroad,” said Eni CEO, Claudio Descalzi.

The two companies are currently working on a 10 MW PV in Ouargla, the capital of Ouargla Province, in the Sahara Desert in southern Algeria. The project, announced in May, is expected to provide with power the Bir Rebaa North (BRN) oil field, which is operated by Sonatrach unit Groupemen Sonatrach Agip (GSA).

It is scheduled for completion in December 2017. Eni said that approximately 32,000 solar panels will be used for the plant, without providing additional technical or financial details.

The two companies signed a preliminary strategic agreement on renewables in September, which included the 10 MW PV project in Ouargla.

Sonatrach, on the other hand, is expected play a central role in the tender for 4 GW of solar capacity recently announced by the Algerian government.

To date, however, the tender has not been issued, and the delay of its launching is mainly due to negotiations with the Algerian renewable energy sector, which fears that the size of the tendered projects may lead to the exclusion of local players.