Local production covers only 48% of Tunisia’s energy demand, which exacerbated the energy deficit between 2017 and 2018, as shown by the recent data of the Tunisian Ministry of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

Between 2017 and 2018, Tunisia’s oil production fell by 2.4%, and gas production declined by 6.4%. Over the same period, the demand for oil fell slightly by about 0.2%, while demand for gas rose by 1.9%. On the other hand, local crude oil production did not exceed 40,000 barrels per day (b/d), compared with 85,000 in 2010, according to a report by the Tunisian Enterprise of Petroleum Activities.

The energy deficit, estimated at around $2.1 billion, compared with $162 million in 2010, rose by 7% Year-on-Year in 2018. As a result, energy independence deteriorated from 51% in 2017 to 48% in 2018. Moreover, economists estimate that the volume of investments in the energy sector declined from $374 million to $57 million in 2018.

The Tunisian government recently launched the first phase of a 450-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle power plant in Rades, a southern suburb of Tunis, with a total cost of $273 million. The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and is expected to be completed by May 2020. Another plant in Mornaguia will bring new power generation capacities to 1,000 MW, around 20% of the total local electricity production in Tunisia.