Oil and gas industry contractor Petrofac has halted gas production in Tunisia after two weeks of renewed protests on the southern Kerkennah islands, Reuters reported.
The announcement comes just three months after Petrofac restarted operations at Kerkennah’s Chergui gas field, following nine months of disruptions due to protests. Petrofac had threatened in September to shut down operations entirely and leave Tunisia, but the government reached a deal with protesters demanding jobs and development, according to AMEinfo.
Petrofac’s Head of operations in the North African country, Imed Darouich, said the company was now being forced to halt operations again because protesters were blocking trucks and stocks were running out. While, Tunisian Energy Minister, Hela Cheikh Rouhou, said the production stoppage had been expected because protesters “had not respected the deal signed in September”.
Petrofac’s operations supply around 13% of Tunisia’s domestic gas needs. It holds a 45% share at Chergui, with the rest held by a state-run company. Government officials say importing gas from Algeria to make up for the shortfall caused by disruption to Petrofac’s production during the first nine months of 2016 had cost the government about $100m.