Medgaz pipe set for start in Algeria

THE START UP of the Algerian side of the Medgaz pipeline, exporting natural gas to Spain, is "imminent," according to an Algerian official, after a delay of more than a year.

Dow Jones reported official agency Algerie Presse Service quoted Mohamed Tayeb Cherif, a regional manager at the pipeline transport unit of Sonatrach, as saying "the pipeline is currently on standby. Its start-up is imminent".

He said all technical tests have been carried out ahead of putting of the gas pipeline into operation. A Spanish spokesman for the Medgaz project said the pipeline is ready to start operations "in coming weeks" but declined to provide additional details. The project has been continuously postponed since late 2009 amid technical problems and a global gas glut. Medgaz is operated by a consortium comprising Algerian state oil company Sonatrach, Spanish companies Endesa, Cepsa, Iberdrola and France's GDF Suez.

The pipeline has an annual capacity of 8bn cu m, likely more than Spain needs in additional gas supplies, given the current decline in demand following the economic crisis.

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