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Protests In Oil-Rich Algeria Continue Even After Bouteflika’s Departure

Protests in Algeria continued on Friday, more than a week after Algeria’s president of 20 years, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stepped down from the top office, with protesters angered at the interim leadership in the OPEC member and demanding total political change.

Following weeks of huge nationwide protests, Algeria’s President of 20 years, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stepped down last week.

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.

Now Algerians show that they want more changes in the country’s leadership and demanded that interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, seen as a part of the regime, resign.

Algeria’s oil and gas future now looks uncertain amid the political crisis as state-run oil company Sonatrach is once again under scrutiny for alleged corruption and as major international oil companies suspended talks on projects in the country.

Oil majors are reeling from the crisis in Algeria that first saw Exxon halt its prospective shale ambitions, and has now spread to major trading houses.

Earlier this week, Sonatrach shuttered plans for a trading joint venture just as it was about to choose a partner from among trading giants Vitol, Gunvor, French Total, and Italian Eni. 

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Exxon, BP, and Norway’s Equinor had all put the brakes on investment plans for the North African country amid escalating protests. Exxon was about to sign a preliminary deal for a trading joint venture with Sonatrach, and BP and Equinor both have a long-standing presence in the country—both with new investment intentions that were put on hold.

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Algeria’s oil and gas sector accounts for 85 percent of all of the OPEC country’s exports, according to OPEC, and accounts for 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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