Tunisia: Govt. spokesman explains reasons behind dismissal of Energy Minister

  • September 6, 2018

Spokesman for the government Iyed Dahmani explained that a Tunisian investor who operates in an oil field without a license in the coastal regions of Monastir is the reason behind the dismissal of Minister of Energy, Mines and Renewable Energy Khaled Gaddour, Secretary of State for Mines Hachem Hmidi and some officials of his department.

He added during a press conference held Friday at the Kasbah that the Tunisian investor had invited the Prime Minister to inaugurate the oil field “Halk el Menzel” in the coming weeks but after verification it turned out that the time allowed for his operating license has expired since 2009.

Dahmani acknowledged that the responsibility of the Minister of Energy, Mining and Renewable Energy is indirect in this case that goes back to 2009, specifying that a thorough investigation will be initiated by the General Public Service Control Authority (ICGSP) and that of the General Financial Control (CGF) to identify the officials involved in this case.

He specified that the services of the Ministry of Energy has not warned the Tunisian investor, during the period 2009-2018, about the expiry of the license for the field “Halk el Menzel” and no measure has been taken to this end. On the contrary, this investor has benefited from all the tax incentives granted under the Hydrocarbons Code and continued to operate illegally throughout this period.

Dahmani pointed out that the operating life of the oil field “Halk el Menzel” (coastal areas of Monastir) is 50 years according to an operating agreement concluded in 1979, but after the adoption of the Hydrocarbons Code in 1999, the owner of the permit, obtained in 2006 from his original holder, had chosen to adhere to the above-mentioned code in order to benefit from several advantages, notably fiscal ones, which had led to the reduction of the license term to a maximum of 30 years, according to the Hydrocarbons Code (1999). As a result, the operating period of the license had expired in 2009 instead of 2029.

He further specified that the oil field of “Halk el Menzel,” exploited illegally, is among the main fields in Tunisia with a reserve of 8.1 million barrels while Tunisia produces 15 million barrels annually. The production of the field is expected to reach 15 thousand barrels during the 1st period of exploitation against a national daily production of oil estimated at 39 thousand barrels, an additional contribution of the said field to the national production at 30% a day.

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