Tunis, Nov 7 (AFP/APP): Tunisia on Saturday said it had reached a deal with protesters in the impoverished south who had blockaded oil and gas facilities for months to allow operations to resume. “An agreement has been reached between the government and representatives of Tataouine,” Slim Tissaoui, government advisor on social affairs, told AFP.
The government said energy companies would resume their actitivies on Saturday without further details. Demonstrators in the long-marginalised desert region of Tataouine, some 420 kilometres (260 miles) south of the capital Tunis, began staging sit-ins and cutting off production in mid-July. They had demanded the state follow through on promises to create thousands of jobs under deals ending previous rounds of protests.
Tissaoui said the government had promised to hire hundreds of local people and create an investment fund for the region, which regional officials said totalled about $29 million. Tataouine already suffered over 30 percent unemployment, one of the highest rates in the country, before the coronavirus pandemic wiped out thousands of informal jobs and strangled illicit cross-border trading networks with Libya and Algeria that bring vital income to many of the region’s households.
Tunisia’s modest oil sector normally produces up to 40,000 barrels per day, just over half of it from Tataouine, where Austria’s OMV, Italy’s ENI and Anglo Tunisian Oil and Gas have exploration rights, according to the energy ministry.
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