French utility Gaz de France may take up the Gassi Touil liquid natural gas project in Algeria, replacing Spanish firms Repsol and Gas Natural, which were recently ejected from the venture by Algerian state-owned oil firm Sonatrach, reported Thomson Financial, citing El Confidencial as its source.

The El Confidencial report quoted unnamed Spanish sources as saying that the decision to replace the Spanish energy players with Gaz de France (GDF) was agreed in July when French president Nicolas Sarkozy visited Algeria, Thompson Financial revealed.

Thompson Financial also cited a report published by Spain’s Cinco Dias as saying that Sonatrach will employ US law firm Shearman & Sterling to defend it in a lawsuit brought by Repsol regarding the Algerian firm’s cancellation of its contract.