The public group Sonatrach will invest no less than “$ 70 billion” for the exploitation of shale gas in Algeria, said Sunday the CEO of the company, Said Sahnoun, despite the opposition of the inhabitants of the Saharan regions where gas field are found.

The oil company will invest not less than “70 billion dollars over 20 years to produce 20 billion m3 of shale gas a year,” the CEO told public radio. This project will create 50,000 jobs, assured Mr. Sahnoun.

According to Sonatrach estimates, Algeria should drill 200 wells per year to be able to produce 20 billion m3 annually.

The protests against the exploitation of shale gas have increased in the cities of the Algerian Sahara since the oil group announced in late December having successfully completed its first pilot drilling in the In Salah region.

Since January the 1st, schools, businesses and public administrations are closed at In Salah where opposition to the exploitation of this source of energy is becoming more and more momentum.

“We must clarify ambiguities around shale gas (…) maybe we have not sufficiently communicated on the subject, the fears are justified,” said the head of the oil company. “The pilot well In Salah is in the process of producing clean gas. There is a control of water releases.”

The extraction method, hydraulic fracturing, is controversial. It involves injecting very high pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals to release the rock gas.

Consequently the risks of groundwater contamination exist, according to scientists and environmental NGOs.

According to Mr. Sahnoun, technically recoverable shale gas resources are estimated at 20,000 billion m3.

In Algeria, where oil accounts for over 95% of export earnings, reserves in proven conventional gas are estimated at over 4,000 billion m3 and those of oil more than 12 billion barrels.

 

Source: Ennahar Online