|Crude oil:||1.700 billion barrels|
|Natural gas:||90 bcm|
|Condensate:||1,32 million m³|
|Crude oil:||4.364 k tonnes|
|Natural gas:||164,7 million m³|
|All products:||3.298 thousand tonnes/yr|
|Total capacity:||34,000 bpd|
Unlike its prolific oil producing neighbour, Algeria, Tunisia’s upstream oil industry is modest. Current reserves are estimated to be 1,7 billion barrels of crude, 90 billion cubic metres of natural gas and 1,32 million cubic metres of condensate. Its crude oil reserves of are considered sufficient at present production rates to last for 45 years. Production is not sufficient to meet domestic demand and in 1993, Tunisia switched from being a net exporter to a net importer of crude. However, the outlook for Tunisia is bright. It has much promising acreage on offer which is experiencing keen interest by foreign companies.
As far as the downstream oil industry is concerned, consumption of petroleum products in 1994 totalled 3,298,000 tonnes and has been growing at a rate of between 4 and 6% per annum since 1991.
The oil industry in Tunisia is regulated by the Ministry of Industry
Intensive exploration has been carried out in Tunisia since the discovery of oil in neighbouring Algeria and in May 1964, Tunisia’s first oil field, El Borma, was discovered in its southern region near its frontier with Algeria. Other discoveries both onshore and offshore in the Gulf of Gabès, were made. Recent exploration activities onshore in central Tunisia have revealed potential oil and gas fields. These discoveries were made in the Paleozoic Ghadames basin and along the north and east end of the Central Tunisian Cretaceous carbonate platform. The size of the oil and gas reserves have yet to be reliable determined.
Tunisia’s main oil producing fields are El Borma, Ashtart and Sidi el Kilani while the principal gas fields are the El Borma field where associated gas is produced, and the offshore Miskar field, soon to come on stream. Tunisia produces heavy crude types, its best known being El Borma and Ashtart. 28 Tunisian and foreign companies are currently engaged in hydrocarbon operations. Foreign companies include Agip, EHT, British Gas, Samedan Oil, Marathon Oil, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec), Total, Fina, Neste Oy, Oranje Nassau, Union Texas Petroleum, Pluspetrol, EGEP and Walter Enserch. The most active company is Samedan Oil of Tunisia which bought the assets of Shell in 1991, and its partner, Neste Oy.
Natural gas is of increasing importance in the Tunisian energy sector. British Gas are developing the Miskar offshore gas field, in the Gulf of Gabès and claim that it’s expected output of 4.5 million m³ per day will enable Tunisia to become self-sufficient in gas, thus releasing oil for export. The El Borma oilfield accounts for about a third of domestic demand, currently around 1.1 bcm per year. This is supplemented by gas taken as a transit fee from the TransMed pipeline running from the gasfields of Algeria to Italy.
The new Hydrocarbons Code will become effective on 20 February 2000 and will apply to all future exploration and production contracts. The Law introduces some new incentives as Tunisia aims to further develop oil exports.
Tunisia has a 1700 ktonne (34,000 bpd) oil refinery at Bizerte operated by the Société Tunisienne des Industries du Raffinage. Since domestic demand at 3,3 million tonnes outstrips refinery capacity, Tunisia has become an importer of up to 50% of its petroleum products requirements.
Distribution and marketing of fuels and lubiricants products is carried out by the national company, Société Nationale de Distribution du Petrole (SNDP) and 5 international oil companies :