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US Ex-Im Bank has approved a preliminary commitment for a US$1bn line of credit to support the purchase of US equipment and services by Sonatrach, Algeria’s state-owned petroleum company.

Ex-Im Bank’s board of directors approved the preliminary commitment to help finance several Sonatrach oil and gas development and optimisation projects. Individual credits for projects under the line will be considered separately by Ex-Im Bank’s board for final approval after a technical and environmental review of each project. As required by its charter, Ex-Im will notify Congress of the preliminary commitment before approving the first individual project under the line.

“Sonatrach has been a partner of Ex-Im for more than 30 years, and Algeria is an important market for US exporters,” says Ex-Im chairman Philip Merrill. “This transaction would support Algeria’s economic development, trade relations between our two countries, and US exports and jobs.”

Sonatrach is planning a series of large-scale projects to rehabilitate oil and gasfields and expand pipelines as part of its capital expenditure programme for the next five years. Sonatrach would be the primary source of repayment under the Ex-Im credit line; its obligations would not be guaranteed by the Algerian government.