Tunisia to boost energy sector investments in 2004

Jan 10, 2004 01:00 AM

Tunisia's government plans this year to invest 822 mm dinars (EUR 540 mm, $ 687 mm) in the energy sector and step up the search for oil and gas reserves, officials said. The investment is an increase of 130 mm dinars (EUR 85 mm) over 2003's official spending on energy, aimed partly at bringing down a large deficit in the sector.
Fourteen new drilling operations are scheduled in 2004. The joint Tunisian-Algerian Petroleum Company, formed last year, will start exploring potential reserves off Madhia on the north African country's eastern coast, and in eastern Algeria.

More than half this year's investment -- 478 mm dinars -- will go to increasing electricity production by building new turbines at Feriana, in the west, Tina in the north and La Goulette in the Tunis suburbs. Power generation is currently no longer adequate to meet demand, according to the government figures.
Tunisia has also taken out a EUR 77 mm loan from the African Development Bank to modernise its electricity supply networks for more than a million clients, including almost 4,500 small and medium-sized companies as well as homes. By the end of 2004, work to connect the Tunisian power grid to the one in neighbouring Libya is due to be completed.

With a plan to supply natural gas to 30,000 new clients, energy authorities hope to be able to cut back on imports of petroleum products.
Exploiting natural gas reserves has become a "strategic objective" for the country's government, which hopes that in the longer term gas will meet 47 % of total energy consumption, according to official forecasts.

Source: Agence France Presse
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