Tunisian Protesters Shut Down Oil And Gas Pipelines, Again

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Protesters shut down on Wednesday several oil and gas pipelines in the southern Tunisian province of Kebili to urge the government to meet their demands for more jobs and investments in the local economic development.

According to protest spokesman Fakhir al-Ajami, who spoke to Turkish Anadolu Agency, the protesters had given the Tunisian government 48 hours to agree to their demands “or else we will escalate our protest activities.”

Protesters closed in May another oil pumping station in the Kebili province, signaling that the months-long sit-ins and gatherings were nowhere near an end.

The protesters demanded not just jobs, but also more transparency of the North African country’s oil and gas wealth revenues distribution. Averaging 44,000 barrels per day, Tunisia is not a large oil producer, but it does produce oil, and according to the protesters, the money from the sales of this oil is not being distributed fairly, as much of it as there is: US$413 million (1 billion dinars) for 2016.

Earlier in May, the protesters had shuttered production at two gas and condensate fields operated by French Perenco and the pumping station they shut off this weekend is also at a Perenco field.

Last Friday, the government and protesters said that they had reached an agreementthat would put an end to the sit-ins and allow production to resume immediately.

The deal stipulated that the government open 1,500 jobs in oil companies, another 3,000 jobs in environmental-related projects, and a development fund worth US$32.66 million (80 million dinars).

“It is an agreement that addresses all our demands for the region and we will end the sit-in,” Tarek Haddad, one of the protest leaders at the Kamour site in the Tataouine province in the south, told Reuters on Friday.

But al-Ajami, spokesman for the Kebili protesters, told Anadolu Agency:

“The authorities rushed to negotiate with the Tataouine protesters, while ignoring us.”

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