The withdrawal of the British energy company, Petrofac from Tunisia following months of disturbances will severely damage perceptions of Tunisia and the chances of attracting further investment, the Minister of Trade and Industry has said.
Petrofac’s withdrawal from Tunisia comes at a sensitive time for the Tunisian economy. Speaking on Jawara FM Minister for Trade and Industry, Zied Ladhari warned stated the British company’s exit “will have serious impact on investment in Tunisia.” He said that he believed in the necessity for Tunisia to show an image of stability and respect for the law to end to attract foreign investors.
Both locally based Petrofac workers and the local unemployed community have aired grievances against the company since 2011. Petrofac had set a deadline for demonstrations to end by Tuesday of this week (20th September), however, protests continued. Yesterday Director General of ETAP Tunisia’s National Oil and Gas Company who hold’s a 55% equity stake in Petrofac’s Chergui Facility on Kerkennah confirmed to Tunisia Live that Petrofac were in the process of winding down it’s operation and would leave Tunisia.
Political Analyst, Youssef Cherif told Tunisia Live that, “It will look like another company is once again looking to exit from Tunisia.” He said that Petrofac leaving may appear to the international community to be a loss of confidence in in Tunisia as a location for business investment.
Cherif said that many companies came to Tunisia when Ben Ali was in power in order to profit from an environment free of regulation. “They came because this it was secure under the dictatorship and, of course, now it is not secure,” Cherif stated that currently the risk to any potential Tunisian investment is not posed by terrorism, but by the threat of social and industrial action. Cherif believed that much of the current conflict on Kerkennah arose from unrealistic expectations on both sides; the oil company wanting the same conditions as they had experienced under Ben Ali and workers demanding better rights, increased access to the workplace and higher pay.