Tunisia southern gas protests tense as negotiations falter
Tunisian protesters threatening to blockade gas production in the south of the country on Thursday rejected a government offer of jobs and investment and moved their protest closer to a pipeline and pumping station, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The protests in southern Tatatouine are testing Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's government and have already forced two foreign energy companies to halt production or remove staff as a precaution because of threats of disruption.
Six years after Tunisia's revolution ended Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali's autocratic rule, the North African state is still struggling to deliver economic opportunities to unemployed youth in marginalised regions like Tatatouine.
Around 1,000 protesters have been camped out for weeks in the Sahara near a gas pipeline in a region where Italy's ENI and Austria's OMV have operations. But government attempts to broker a deal with job offers have so far failed.
"We will not accept the offers of the government because these jobs are not immediate. These unemployed youths can not wait," said Tarek Haddad, one of the protest leaders, in a video message on Facebook.
He said the protest would move to Vana, closer to a nearby pumping station, warning protesters would not retreat. Soldiers have recently moved into the area around the pumping station.
President Beji Caid Essebsi a week ago ordered the army into the area to protect strategic energy and phosphate production.
The government has already offered 1,500 jobs with energy companies, including 1,000 immediately and 500 next year. Officials have also offered 2,000 jobs in horticulture and environmental projects as well as $20 million to develop projects in the region.
"We want seriously to find solutions for the expectations of the protesters, but sometimes there are more demands than the possibilities," said Marbouk Korchid a senior official in the government said. "There are some exaggerated demands."
ENI says the protests have not affected production. But OMV has removed 700 non-essential staff as a precaution. Perenco halted production at its Targa and Baguel fields, while protests closed Canada-based Serinus Energy's Chouech Essaida field.
The protests are another challenge for Chahed whose government is struggling to push through sensitive subsidy and public spending reforms demanded by the IMF and other lenders to help stabilize economic growth.
Tunisia is a small oil and gas player with production at around 44,000 barrels per day, but its economy is just recovering from 2015 Islamist militant attacks on foreign visitors that hit the vital tourist industry hard.
Related news releases
- 24.11.2017Death toll from Sinai mosque explosion hits 235 - UPDATED
- 24.11.2017Death toll from Sinai mosque explosion hits 184- UPDATED
- 24.11.2017Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in
- 22.11.2017Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa to be sworn in as president on Friday
- 22.11.2017At least 30 children killed in Nigeria over brutal interethnic clashes - Police
- 21.11.2017Zimbabwe's Mugabe resigns
- 21.11.20176 farmers beheaded in Nigeria’s insurgency-wracked NE
- 21.11.2017Militant killed, 18 arrested in Egypt's Sinai: Army
- 20.11.2017Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF sets Mugabe impeachment ball rolling
- 18.11.2017Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party calls for Mugabe resignation
- 17.11.2017'There's no going back,' Zimbabwe's party tells Mugabe
- 17.11.2017Deposed Zimbabwe vice president to form transitional government
- 17.11.2017Three militant killed, 74 arrested in Egypt’s raids in Sinai
- 16.11.2017Zimbabwe state-run media releases photos of Mugabe meeting with army commander
- 16.11.2017Kenya to Allow Non-Military Use of Drones
- 16.11.2017Libyan forces hit Islamic State camp with air strike: commander
- 16.11.2017Suicide bombers kill 14 in northeast Nigeria
- 15.11.2017Zimbabwe: military takes control of state broadcaster in capital Harare, urges calm
- 14.11.2017EU migrant deal with Libya is 'inhuman' - UN
- 12.11.2017US drone strike in Somalia against al-Shabab kills several
- 11.11.2017Airstrikes kill 10 militants in Egypt’s Sinai
- 11.11.2017Tunisia's President prolongs state of emergency in country for 3 months
- 09.11.2017Tanzania: 5 pupils dead, 43 injured in grenade blast
- 08.11.2017South Sudanese government extends unilateral cease-fire
- 07.11.2017DR Congo: Cholera killed over 700 in last 3 months
- 07.11.2017President declares state of emergency in central Sudan
- 06.11.2017Senegal: Road accident claims 25 Muslim pilgrims
- 04.11.2017U.S. carries out first strikes against Islamic State in Somalia
- 04.11.2017Zimbabwe police charge U.S. citizen with anti-government plot
- 02.11.2017Seven bodies found in migrant boat off Libya
- 01.11.2017Six dead after ambush on Malian High Court's president
- 29.10.2017Bombs kill at least 17 people in Somali capital Mogadishu - UPDATED
- 27.10.2017Blast kills 3 UN peacekeepers in Mali
- 26.10.2017Suspected Boko Haram militants kill eight soldiers, one civilian in Nigeria's northeast: police
- 25.10.2017Road accident claims 11 lives in Nigeria
- 24.10.2017UN envoy arrives in Libya capital for unannounced visit
- 21.10.2017Morocco condemns Algerian foreign minister's remarks, recalls envoy - UPDATED
- 21.10.2017Helicopter plunges into lake after hotel takeoff in Kenya
- 21.10.2017Sixteen dead following four-vehicle collision in Egypt
- 21.10.2017At least two dead in bombing on Mogadishu outskirts
- 19.05.2017Suicide bombers hit Nigerian university
- 20.05.2017Death toll from Libya airbase attack rises to 140, defense chief suspended
- 20.05.2017Tunisia protesters shut oil transport pumping station
- 17.05.201727 killed in Nigeria gunmen attack
- 13.05.2017Sudan swears in new government
- 13.05.2017Democratic Republic of Congo hit by Ebola outbreak