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    OMV Resumes Tunisia Work at Nawara


Work has resumed on a development onshore southern Tunisia that could boost the country's gas production by one-third by 2018.

by: Zainab Calcuttawala

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OMV Resumes Tunisia Work at Nawara

Work has resumed on a development onshore southern Tunisia that could boost the country's gas production by one-third by 2018.

Tunisian protesters blockading OMV’s onshore Nawara gas field project in southern Tunisia reached a deal with the government on June 16, ending a sit-in that had barred the Austrian producer from progressing construction on the development.

OMV reportedly said June 20 that roads to Nawara were no longer blocked by demonstrators, a breakthrough that allowed it to start receiving construction materials once more. At the peak of the unrest in late April, the company stood down 700 non-essential staff at its gas field development site in southern Tunisia “to maintain safety and security.”

As part of the deal with protestors, Tunis agreed to budget $32.66mn for a development fund for southern Tunisia and 3,000 new jobs for the region, which suffers from chronically high unemployment.  The government also called on oil and gas companies to hire 1,500 Tunisians to man its local operations, but it has no control over their hiring practices.

OMV remains committed to a detailed local hiring and economic impact report for the Nawara operation that it had submitted to authorities before the protestors reached their own deal with the government, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to NGW. The company said it expects to hire Tunisians to fill all 200 skilled and unskilled positions at Nawara.

Tunisia’s gas consumption of 6.37bn m3/yr remains half-dependent on Algeria for its gas needs, given 3.07bn m3/yr domestic production, according to latest 2015 data from the Eni World Oil and Gas Review. Nawara will add about 0.9bn m3/yr, boosting Tunisian gas production to roughly 4bn m3/yr.

The 370km pipeline from Nawara, linking gas in southern Tunisia to an existing 3.65 bn m3/yr treatment plant in Gabes, is still under construction.

When OMV decided in 2014 to develop Nawara, the project was to have been completed in 2016 but may now struggle to be finished late 2017.

As the site of the start of the 2011 Arab Spring, Tunisia is a tinder box for economic protests. The country has seen seven prime ministers in the six years since the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, none of whom have been able to alleviate entrenched unemployment and corruption issues.


Zainab Calcuttawala