IPMA International Project Management Association
17 July 2017 / 7:57

How to finance projects in an OPEC country when the price of oil barrel is divided by two?

Beginning of July 2017 a workshop with Algerian Project Management Association Board took place in in Algiers in order to review the implementation progress of the roadmap that APMA presented to become an IPMA member.  The young North African member association joined IPMA in 2016, a year where the Algerian economy (Algeria is member of  the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) suffered a lot from shrinking revenues as the price per oil barrel fell from 80 to 48 dollars. Since 2 years the consequences on Algeria’s economy and commissioned infrastructure and industrial projects are dramatic. In this context, what options does the country that 3 years ago had foreign exchange reserves of +200 bn. US dollars have to finance its economy?

Excluded in 2015, put on the agenda in 2016 contracting external debts as recommended by the International Monetary Fund is now being excluded again from the government program in 2017.

The first option the country has to finance ongoing and future projects is to work on the revenue side of its balance of payments:

  • search external resources, as financing projects in the sector of energy with 1bn euro from the African Development Bank (2017-2027). This initiative just started
  • increase taxes: a bill just passed through Parliament and will impact households, public and private enterprises
  • attract private and public foreign direct investors: this is complex as the legal framework is unstable and competences in finance are missing. However, this is a promising solution and should be seen as an opportunity by many public and private stakeholders
  • follow the example of China. It offers its state companies operating in Algeria such as China State Construction Corporation and China Harbour Engineering large long term loans (3,4 Bn euro) to finance mega infrastructure projects in Algeria
  • invest in renewable energies (solar energy) to better satisfy national a growing national demand and have more fossil energy reserves to export in the future. Did you know that Algeria imports petrol for its national consumption mainly in transports (cars, busses and trains) as it has not sufficient refining capacities to process its own oil and gas production?
  • anticipate important trends: While in 2019 the car and truck manufacturer Volvo announced that they will not produce anymore classical combustion engines and will convert them to electrical and hybrid engines , it is sure that other car manufacturers will follow. At the same time Algeria invests huge amounts of money in the development of an own car industry to manufacture combustion engines (ex. Dacia, Renault and Peugeot plants just implemented near the Algerian town of Oran)

Contracting external debts can be risky in a context of political instability and slow economic reforms towards economic liberalization. The rating of granted loans today could become worse in the future and push the country into even higher financial instability.

The second option the country has finance projects is to reduce expenses in the balance of payments:

– reduce with strong discipline the invoice of imports made in hard currency will help to preserve foreign exchange reserves that now are below the symbolic amount of 100 bn dollars. Future capacity to import food are at stake
– reduce subsidies inherited from the socialist period of the Algeria economy in many sectors of the economy
– revisit the investment program in large infrastructure  projects, especially in the sectors of energy housing, transport and increase taxes where possible means that a devaluation of the Algerian currency dinar against the dollar is likely to take place shortly

-invest in agriculture to reduce food imports and increase food self-sufficiency

In a nutshell, to finance projects in oil and gas exporting countries either you reduce the expenses drastically and diversify your source of revenues or you have to contract international debts.

No matter what way the Algerian government will chose, it will have to invest (40 to 50 bn dollars according to an Algerian professor) into people (human intelligence as some Algerians say), innovation, creation of start-ups and certainly project management competences. This is the objective of APMA and IPMA regularly encourages its Alerian member to enhance its visibility in the country. In this context, a national conference on project management will be organized before December 2017, following the ones organized in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Representatives of administrations, private and public businesses, and universities will be invited. IPMA already offered its participation. Work is in progress and more details are coming up.


  • Boukhatem says:

    Afin de commenter l’intervention de M. SAIDOUN concernant la problématique posée relative aux difficultés de financement de l’économie nationale, je signale qu’effectivement le problème est d’ordre humain et particulièrement dans le choix des hommes à qui on confie la conduite des projets qui amèneront le changement escompté, quelque soit le domaine d’intervention. L’actuel gouvernement en est bien conscient de cette carence fatale. Ainsi,
    …”Le chef du projet chargé de la rénovation de la raffinerie pétrolière de Sidi R’cine (Alger) a été relevé de ses fonctions, hier, par le P-DG de la Sonatrach”. J’ai choisi cet exemple car l’article évoque la question énergétique et le développement durable où l’homme est au centre de la dynamique du changement.
    …En 2020, les voitures algériennes circuleront en carburant 100% «made in Bladi». En effet, le nouveau ministre de l’Energie Mustapha Guitouni a annoncé, hier à Alger, que l’Algérie n’importera plus de carburant d’ici 2020! «Le programme national de renforcement des capacités des raffineries permettrait à l’Algérie de couvrir la demande nationale en produits pétroliers, notamment en carburant, sans recourir à l’importation à l’horizon 2020», a-t-il lancé, lors de la visite qu’il a effectuée à la raffinerie de Sidi R’cine à Baraki (Alger). «Ce programme s’appuiera sur les deux nouvelles raffineries de Hassi Messaoud (Sud) et Tiaret (Ouest) qui permettront de combler le déficit. Elles porteront les capacités globales de raffinage de l’Algérie à 45 millions de tonnes», a-t-il soutenu. «Les travaux de ces deux raffineries seront prochainement lancés, elles devraient entrer en vigueur à partir de 2020», a t-il ajouté avec beaucoup d’optimisme.
    Dans ce sens, il explique que les Algériens consomment plus de 15 millions de tonnes de carburant par an, alors que les capacités actuelles de production ne sont que de 11,5 millions de tonnes. «Une différence de 3,5 millions de tonnes que l’on comble avec l’importation, ce qui coûte plus de 2 milliards de dollars par an», a-t-il souligné pour montrer l’ampleur des dégâts.”
    il faut savoir que bon nombre de projet structurant en Algérie souffrent de retard de réalisation ou de problèmes récurrents d’avancement, souvent le résultat d’incompétence managériale ou d’incompatibilité de l’encadrement avec les projets en question. néanmoins la gouvernance des secteurs névralgiques gagnerait énormément en performance si le choix des hommes est juste et judicieux.
    L’APMA de par ses objectifs et sa raison d’être s’inscrit dans ce cadre de prise de conscience et de proposition constructive.

  • Chris Bragg says:

    Boukhatem makes a valid point re leadership and competency.

    I suggest a three fold stratgey is required from a strategy execution perspective – all areas where APMA can hopefully contribute.

    1. A National strategic performance management system is needed to manage a clearly defined and agreed national strategy that includes clarity and transparency on defining project value, sustainability targets, and external loan/participation parameters, regulation and policy. Communication at all levels as well as incentives to the private sector to encourage alignment and support synergistic development are a critical part of this.
    2. A national portfolio management framework is needed to ensure that uncertainty on key projects is reduced, that values claimed are realistic and comparable, and ensure that planning is taken to the appropriate levels before funds are approved. This must serve to optimise project throughput in terms of sustainable strategic value delivered per unit of investment, and also act to streamline and improve key decision making at sponsorship and project management levels. It should provide the framework and guidance needed to support and mentor key project sponsors and directors, and reduce cost per unit of value delivered so that it helps mitigate the impact of oil price reduction in as many ways as possible, but especially by improving the project initiation process where we know we can achieve the biggest impacts with least cost.
    3. Instigate a national competency development program focused on key competencies in portfolio, program and project management with consistent competency based certification steps tuned specifically to the country’s needs. It should address government and private sector needs so that all levels of projects (SME to megaproject) can be improved. A national database of recognised competencies, with approved assessment models and recognition requirements, and skills demand and availability could significantly help training institutes, recruitment agencies and employees/students plan to meet national demands and avoid redundant or less than useful certification. Innovative use of automation can greatly reduce the practical obstacles to achieving this today.

    While the challenges of implementing all 3 elements at national level are significant, we know from experience that it can probably be done, where political will and commitment exists. Is the drop in oil price revenues enough of an incentive to generate this commitment?

  • It’s quite difficult to finance energy projects wehen the price of oil barrel is law, according to some scholars the best oil price, from this point of view, should be 50 to 70 $, however this is market driven and therefore beyond of our control.
    With reference to the alternatives proposed in the article, I would suggest to start following the example of China using either state companies or mixed companies owned by the state together with foreign investors. In the following years, trying to open the economy to the international market with a slow but continuosly progressing procedure.

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Amin Saidoun

Author of this post

Amin Saidoun is Executive Director of International Project Management Association, an international federation of project management associations around the world. Amin Saidoun, is an economist and graduate from London School of Economics and Political Sciences. He is a project manager who gained his 20 years of experience in international projects both in medium sized and multinational organisations in auditing, consulting and the logistics domain. As Executive Director of IPMA, he is in charge of the area Finance and Administration, Business Development of IPMA activities in Africa and the Middle-East and involved is various internal development projects and governance. He is author and co-author on various project management and business administration related articles. Among his areas of interest: intercultural project management