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Algerian state oil and gas company Sonatrach has signed financing agreements with six European banks for a total 1.6 billion (US$1.92 billion).

The money will “guarantee financial resources to implement our 2004-08 development plan,” energy minister Chakib Khelil says. Sonatrach wants to boost oil production to 1.5mn barrels per day by 2005 and raise gas exports to 85bn cubic metres a year by 2010.

The financing deals were signed with ABN Amro Bank and ING Belgium for €
500mn each, BSCH for €200mn, Banesto for €150mn, Commerzbank for €150mn and DZ Bank for €100mn.

“The presence of the European banks today is a signal that financial institutions trust Algeria,” Khelil claims.

Sonatrach signed similar financing agreements last year with US Ex-Im Bank and European banks for a total 3.3bn.

“Foreign direct investment is key to achieve our goal. We got US$8.6bn between 1999 and 2003. We expect to attract more in the coming years,” Khelil adds.