An Italian energy company has discovered a new oil field in the desert surrounding the southern town of Tataouine, potentially bringing further jobs and investment to the underdeveloped region.
Italian oil company Eni announced the discovery on Monday, confirming that the new field had the potential to produce up to 2,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Like many of the inlying regions of Tunisia, unemployment in Tataouine is acute. Regional Secretary of the UGTT, Bashire Saidi told Tunisia Live that, “There is no investment. There are many social problems in Tatouine,” adding that graduates of both academic and professional training courses were especially badly served by the local economy.
However, Saidi’s enthusiasm for fresh oil production within the area was curbed by the low prices the commodity has fallen to in recent years, (currently around $43 mark per barrel). While Saidi admitted it was unlikely the new oil field would translate into jobs anytime this year, he expressed hope that 2017 would bring more luck.”There is a strong volume [of oil flow], and next year I hope that the barrel price will increase. ”
While Saidi was confident that Eni and the new oil field would make a positive contribution to the area, he cautioned against investing too much faith in petrochemical companies, arguing instead for investment in diverse industries and micro-businesses as a better way of ensuring sustainable economic regeneration.
Eni have operated in Tunisia since 1961 and is currently producing the equivalent of 11,000 barrels of oil per day with sites mainly off Hammamet and in the Sahara, Eni holds interests in partnership with the Tunisian National Oil Company (ETAP), with Eni holding between 25% and 50% equity in a number of operations.
Earlier this year the government publicly committed to transparency in all its dealing with foreign oil companies following widespread protests following rumors of the discovery of extensive reserves in the country’s south.