• Field produces nearly 10 per cent of Tunisia’s gas
  • Government officials are involved in the dialogue to end protests
  • Dispute is over the provision of local jobs

UK-listed energy company Petrofac has shut down operations at its Kerkennah gas field in Tunisia due to protests.

In an email statement to MEED it said that the decision to shut down operations was made to ensure the safety of employees.

“Petrofac, along with many other oil & gas producers in Tunisia has experienced demonstrations at site,” said spokesperson Alison Flynn.

“As a precaution, and to ensure the safety of our employees, we have taken the decision to shut down production. The Governor of Sfax and other government officials are in dialogue with the protesters to resolve this dispute, which is over the provision of local jobs.”

The Kerkennah island has been the site of several disputes that have disrupted operations over recent years.

These include a temporary suspension of operations in June 2014 due to a dispute between subcontractors.

Petrofac has a 45 per cent stake in the Cergui gas facility on the island of Kerkennah, with the remaining 55 per cent held by Tunisia’s national oil company, Enterprise Tunisienne d’Activities Petrolieres (Etap).

The concession is responsible for just under 10 per cent of Tunisia’s total gas production, according to Petrofac’s website.

In November 2014, Petrofac completed the tie-in of its Chergui 8 well, which was the fifth well to start production from the field.

According to local news reports, the protests at the Cergui gas facility have included a sit-in at the Cergui gas facility that was conducted by 266 young people.

A total of 99 per cent of the Chergui employees are Tunisian according to Petrofac, with more than 60 coming from Kerkennah island.

The shutdown on Kerkennah comes two weeks after Tunisia’s industry, energy & mining minister announced that Italian energy company Eni was planning to exit the country.

Speaking to local news agency TAP, he said the firm’s exit had no connection to the security situation in the country, and the reasons for Eni exiting are increasing costs of production and the decline in global oil prices.

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