10 November 2013

Tunisia’s state oil and gas firm relies on international partnerships

Founded: 1972

CEO: Mohamed Akrout

Tel: (+216) 7 128 5300



Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activites Petrolieres (Etap) is Tunisia’s state oil and gas producer. It was formed in 1972 as interest in the country’s potential as an oil producer grew. By 1982, Etap and its international partners were producing 120,000 barrels a day (b/d) of oil, a volume that could not be maintained. By the early 2000s, output had fallen to 68,000 b/d.

Etap and Tunis responded by making it easier for international oil companies (IOCs) to invest in the sector, and focused on enhanced oil recovery techniques, which helped push production back up to 97,000 b/d in 2007. Output has subsequently fallen to 65,000 b/d in 2012, according to the UK’s BP.

Role in Tunisia’s economy

Tunisia is a rare example in the Middle East and North Africa of a country that is an overall importer of hydrocarbons – it exports gas, but imports oil, and the overall balance is negative. Etap, meanwhile, is a relatively small employer, with 792 workers at the end of 2011, and it depends heavily on partnerships with IOCs to help develop the country’s oil and gas assets.

Role in the global economy

Etap does not play a major role in the global economy, although its gas exports contribute to the balance of energy.


Etap aims to bring as many IOCs into Tunisia as possible, in order to generate both the capital and expertise required by the sector to grow. The firm also displays a willingness to cooperate with other regional national oil companies. It has agreements with Libya’s National Oil Corporation, Syrian Petroleum Company and Sonatrach of Algeria, while Abu Dhabi-based investment vehicle Mubadala Development Company also holds stakes in the Tunisian energy sector.

The company is keen to exploit enthusiasm for offshore exploration in the Mediterranean and is offering offshore deepwater oil and gas blocks. It has also been considering the possibility of developing shale gas. Etap’s focus has turned to international exploration and production opportunities.

Subsidiaries and concessions

Key subsidiaries include the driller Compagnie Tunisienne de Forage and the oil explorer Societe de Recherches et d’Exploitation des Petroles en Tunisie, a joint venture with Austria’s OMV. Other subsidiaries involved in joint ventures working on oil and gas production include Compagnie Tuniso-Kowaitienne de Petrole (Tunisian-Kuwaiti Petroleum Company), with Kuwaiti investors, and Maretap, with Toronto-headquartered Canadax Energy Inc.

Etap also has a 50 per cent holding in Joint Oil in partnership with the government of Libya to oversee the development of offshore resources along the Tunisian-Libyan maritime border and in Numhyd, a joint venture with Algeria’s Sonatrach.

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