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President Of OPEC Member Algeria Steps Down Amid Protests

Following weeks of huge nationwide protests, Algeria’s President of 20 years, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stepped down from the top office of the oil and gas-rich African nation member of OPEC.

Mass protests across Algeria erupted several weeks ago when Bouteflika announced he would run for a fifth term as president. Those protests forced him to rescind that decision, but the momentum against him failed to subside. Instead, it had increased and intended to do so until he steps down entirely.

Exxon’s negotiations with Algeria for the development of local shale gas resources are being delayed because of the widespread anti-government protests in the North American country, Reuters reported two weeks ago, citing industry sources.

The report came as no surprise as it comes on the heels of other media reports that energy companies are getting nervous about their Algerian plans amid the unrest and widespread protests in the nation rich in oil and gas.

Algeria produces around 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). According to the latest available figures by OPEC, Algeria’s crude oil production in February stood at 1.026 million bpd. Under the OPEC+ deal for production cuts, Algeria should reduce its output to 1.025 million bpd, down by 32,000 bpd from its October level of 1.057 million bpd. 

The North African country is home to the world’s third-largest shale gas reserves, estimated at some 2,000 trillion cu ft, according to the Algerian government. Algeria is already an important gas supplier to Europe and is looking to increase its market share there.

However, the country’s shale gas fields are concentrated in the south, where the population is against gas exploration. Development plans for the area were already stopped once by local protests last year, but Sonatrach, the state energy company, pledged to continue seeking ways to convince the local community leaders that the plans will benefit them.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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