Tunisia has recorded a drop in crude oil and natural gas production of 10.1 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, in line with forecasts made by authorities last summer.
Domestic crude oil production fell by 6.2 percent for 2016, compared to a drop of 9.6 percent in 2015 and 10.6 percent in 2014.
Tunisia was producing about 42,000 BBL/D at this time last year. At its highest point, in 1997, the country was producing 93,000 BBL/D. Its record low was 42,000 BBL/D, reached first in December 2015.
The termination of production in some oil fields was caused by—among other things—persistent social unrest and a series of technical failures in some production locations, according to the Central Bank of Tunisia.
At the same time, an 11-percent decline in domestic gas production over the previous year was also reported. This represents a much larger decline, with production down only 3.9 percent in 2015 and 8.5 percent in 2014.
While oil and gas have declined in terms of output, the mining sector has recorded an increase in value over the last year. The central bank reported an increase of 17.4 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, largely due to phosphate production levels, which reached US$3.8 million tonnes in a last year.
In the first seven months of last year there was a production decrease by 8.6 percent or 9.48 million barrels. Simultaneously, natural gas dropped 12.8 percent in the same period.
The decline in oil and gas production is in part due ongoing social unrest in the country’s hinterland—where its lies. Six years after the revolution, this region remains underdeveloped, with high unemployment. The problems have been exacerbated by a security crackdown, particularly near the borders with Libya and Algeria.
Tunisia is not a major producer, nor is it party to the OPEC and non-OPEC crude oil output cuts in which signatories agreed to a 1.8 million-barrels per day reduction.
By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com
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Damir Kaletovic is a veteran investigative journalist covering Europe and the Middle East, and a senior consultant for Divergente Research.