Tunisia: Output Slides, Firms Look For The Door Amid Instability

Tunisian gas output is at an 8-year low. A massive increase in protests has hit investment. Strike-hit producer Petrofac may be heading for the exit.

Strikes and local protests have been a regular feature of the Tunisian oil and gas scene since former dictator Ben Ali was overthrown in the January 2011 ‘revolution’ that kicked off the Arab Spring. In many ways Tunisia’s experiment in democracy has been an admirable success – certainly compared to its neighbors Libya and Egypt. But not in terms of oil and gas output.

The frequency and intensity of strikes has got worse this year. Gas output fell to just 156mn cfd in March, the lowest monthly level since key offshore fields started up in 2009. This forced Tunisia to import a record 352mn cfd from Algeria, 70% of demand. Algerian gas comes via the Trans-Med pipeline to Italy. Though some Tunisian offtake comes in lieu of a transit fee, the rise in volumes means that Tunisia had to pay for 75% of the 256mn cfd of Algerian supplies received for January-July. (CONTINUED - 892 WORDS)