Algeria to boost oil production to compensate for falling prices, says energy minister

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ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria's minister of energy said Thursday the country could boost oil production to compensate for the dramatic drop in oil prices.

Algeria produces some 1.2 million barrels of oil a day, according to its OPEC quota, but the 50 percent drop in prices over the last few months has hurt the country.

"Today we are in the process of increasing the development of dozens of our deposits," minister Youcef Yousfi told a parliamentary commission. "We will study the possibility of raising our hydrocarbon production to restore the country's revenues."

He said pumping more oil was necessary to carry out the country's development projects in the face of decreased revenues and to avoid international borrowing.

While Algeria has some $200 billion in foreign currency reserves, it also has a massive imports bill.

Oil and gas make up 97 percent of the value of Algeria's exports but reserves are dwindling.

The country had been considering exploiting its abundant shale gas resources. But Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal on Wednesday said efforts to exploit such reserves were in the experimental stage only.

The statement came after demonstrations erupted across the country's southern desert cities in January, as people feared the scarce water supply would be affected. There were renewed peaceful marches on Thursday against shale gas in several southern cities despite the announcement.

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