Tunisian Oil and Gas

Introduction

The Tunisian Republic is located in the northernmost part of Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea between Algeria and Libya. It is bordered by Algeria to the west and Libya to the southeast. The upstream oil industry in Tunisia is still modest and upcoming as compared to its neighbouring countries.

Oil and Gas are the two major sources of energy requirements in the country accounting for 48.30% and 39% respectively in 2008. The country produced about 81,000 barrels per day of crude oil in 2009. Crude oil production has declined marginally in the past decade. However, domestic consumption has increased from 83,000 barrels per day in 1999 to about 107,600 barrels per day in 2009. The country no longer exports crude oil as domestic consumption has risen considerably in recent years. The country’s low refining capacity has led the country to import refined petroleum products to meet its demands.

Crude oil reserves in Tunisia increased from 300m barrels in 2000 to 388m barrels in 2008. El Borma, Ashtart and Sidi el Kilani are Tunisia’s main oil producing fields. Tunisia had around 1.80 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves in 2008, with about two-thirds located offshore. Natural Gas production in Tunisia has increased from 81.70 bn cu ft in 2000 to 91.30 bn cu ft in 2009. Consumption, on the other hand, increased from 83 bn cu ft in 2000 to 112.60 bn cu ft in 2009. Tunisia does not export natural gas. Miskar and Franig are the two major gas fields in the country.

Tunisia Oil and Gas Production and Infrastructure

Tunisian Governing Law

The Hydrocarbon Law of 1999 governs Tunisia exploration and production activities. Key elements of the law include the establishment of a framework for production sharing contracts. The Minister in charge of Hydrocarbons grants licences to the oil and gas companies. Two types of contracts are awarded in Tunisia; Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) and Joint Venture. The exploration for hydrocarbons may be undertaken by virtue of a prospecting authorisation, a prospecting permit and/or an exploration permit.

The National Oil Company

The L’Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activités Pétrolières (ETAP) is the state-owned industrial and commercial company, created by the law (N°72-22) of 1972. ETAP is responsible for the management of oil and gas exploration and production activities on behalf of the State. ETAP participates in exploitation concession at a rate which it decides on its own, within the limits of the maximum rate agreed upon in the Special Convention.

The Tunisian Fiscal System

The total Government take in the Tunisia region is estimated to be around 75.95%. Revenues to the government are primarily driven by Royalty, Profit Oil and Income Tax.

Tunisian pipelines

The total length of crude oil, petroleum and natural gas pipeline network in Tunisia in 2008 was 3,291.2 km. Tunisia’s contribution to Middle East and Africa’s total pipeline length is 2.3%. Major pipelines in the country include the Trans-mediterranean Pipeline, the Transmed Pipeline (Tunisia Section) and the Gabes-Tunis Pipeline. These pipelines have lengths of 775.00km, 740.00km and 319.50km respectively. The top three pipeline companies operating in Tunisia are ENI S.p.A., Sonatrach and Enterprise Tunisienne d’Activites Petrolieres.

Oil and Gas Production

At the end of 2009, there were 20 oil and gas companies producing oil and gas in Tunisia. In total the country produced 46.74 million BOE of equity-weighted crude oil and natural gas in the year to 31 December 2009. The principal producing companies, by annual BOE, were:

Company Country Production 2009,
millions BOE
BG Group Plc UK 13.01
ETAP Tunisia 12.34
ENI S.p.A. Italy 5.62
PA Resources AB 3.67
Preussag Energie GmbH Germany 2.95
Pioneer Natural Resources Company 1.53
Perenco 0.98
Winstar Resources Ltd 0.54
Lundin Petroleum 0.53
Atlantis Holdings Norway AS Norway 0.53
Storm Ventures International Inc 0.38
Candax Energy Inc 0.37

Additional international companies producing in Tunisia in 2009 include: China National Petroleum Corporation, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Co, SOCO Ltd and Petrofac.

Hydrocarbons Exploration

Oil and gas exploration in Tunisia has been increasingly targeted by leading oil and gas companies in the global search for increasing energy supplies. The number of blocks being explored has increased every year for the last six years and has more than doubled in that period:

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Blocks being explored 50 65 71 84 104 105

At the end of 2009, over 40 companies held an interest in at least one exploration block in Tunisia. In addition to Dominion Energy’s subsidiary FAPCO, leading oil and gas companies exploring in the country include (with the number of blocks being pursued at the end of 2009 in brackets):

ETAP (18), Pioneer Natural Resources (6), PA Resources (4), Storm Ventures International (5), Al Thani Emirates Petroleum Corporation (2), Circle Oil Plc (3), Rigo Oil Company Ltd (3), AuDAX Resources Ltd (2), Cooper Energy Ltd (2), ENI S.p.A. (2), EXXOIL Tunisia (2), Oil Search Ltd (2), Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation (1), Vietsovpetro (1), GB Petroleum Plc, Petroceltic International Plc (1), Mediterranean Oil and Gas Plc (1), Mitsubishi Corporation (1), Range Petroleum Ltd (1), BG Group Plc (1) and Royal Dutch Shell (1).

Tunisia’s importance in exploration

Tunisia ranks alongside Algeria and Libya in its level of new exploration activity:

North Africa, Country Standings, Exploration Blocks Awarded, 2008

North Africa, Country Standings, Exploration Blocks Awarded, 2008

Source: GlobalData