By Lamine Chikhi
ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria will block Total from acquiring Anadarko's assets in Algeria, energy minister Mohamed Arkab told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Sunday.
Occidental Petroleum has agreed to sell Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa to Total for $8.8 billion if the U.S. oil company succeeds in completing its plan to take over Anadarko.
"Our ministry has contacted Anadarko to get explanations on this information, but so far we got no answer," Arkab said.
"It means there is no contract between Total and Anadarko ...We have good relations with Anadarko and we will do the utmost to preserve Algeria's interests, including using our pre-emption right to block the sale," the minister said.
Anadarko holdings in Algeria represent about 260,000 barrels of oil per day, more than 25% of the country's crude production estimated at 1 million barrels per day.
There was no immediate comment from Total or Anadarko.
In 2018, Algeria's state energy firm Sonatrach and Total signed new agreements, including a contract to develop the Erg Issouane gas field and plans to create a joint venture.
Total said at the time that the development represented an investment of $400 million. It said it would also form a joint venture company called STEP for a joint petrochemical project in Arzew, western Algeria.
But the relationship between Algeria and France remains scarred by the trauma of the 1954-1962 independence war in which the North African country broke with France. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians were killed and both sides used torture.
(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Jane Merriman and Daniel Wallis)