Algeria’s Sonatrach has discovered crude oil at the Hassi Bir Rkaiz, a project it partners with Thailand’s oil and gas explorer, PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) and CNOOC.

Sonatrach, the largest oil and gas explorer in Algeria, said the discovery was at the sixth well to be drilled at the project. This news comes at a time when oil and gas discoveries in the continent have seen some explosion in recent years.

It is understood that 64 oil and gas discoveries have been made in the continent’s emerging markets over the last five years. The majority of these discoveries were made in the East African nations of Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania.

At present, Tullow Oil and Total S.A are the leading companies in exploration and production (E&P) in the emerging markets of Africa.

UK based Tullow Oil is estimated to have 20 exploration blocks in Africa, the largest number in the continent. The company plans to make Uganda one of the top 50 oil producing countries in the world by investing $10 billion for the development of assets there and has already made 15 oil discoveries.

Total S.A, on the other hand, is the continents hydrocarbon leader in terms of net production and operates in nations including Kenya, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo with the latter producing 123 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2011 alone.

But analysts believe that despite the realisation of Africa’s growing oil and gas wealth, political and economic uncertainties continue to mar the development of Africa’s huge oil and gas wealth progress.

Shifting price policies, taxation changes and threats of vandalism by rebel groups are among the major concerns for international oil companies and have even seen Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) farm out exploration blocks in Ethiopia to a local company.

Sonatrach holds a 51 percent stake in the project. PTTEP and CNOOC each own 24.5 percent.


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