Despite promises Algeria has abandoned its Moratorium on Fracking Gas which it adopted after the 1915 popular uprising, with thousands of injured and one death, 21 year old Mohamed Anoui. In 2015 the strong united popular resistance forced the State to drop its plans for fear of re-igniting civil war. Now Total and Cepsa are back and due to Start Fracking in April 2018.
The first fracking fields are planned withTotal and Cepsa, in the Tight gas fields of SW Algeria, first in the fields of Ahnet.Timimoun, Touat and Reggane which were already extensively prepared before Total was temporarily expelled during the Anti Fracking Uprising in 2015.
Fracking uses a toxic chemical cocktail and uncontrollable explosive pressure to splinter open rocks and can permanently poison groundwater on which Algerian desert communities are 100% dependent.
‘Natural’ gas is over 90% methane which escapes easily and is dozens of times more lethal than CO2 in the 20 year time frame.
The EU’s ‘dash for gas’ as a ‘green’ substitute is a blatant fraud which ignores the urgent necessity to save us from Climate Meltdown. The new pipelines subsidised by the EU public, NordStream, TAP and Midcat are a dangerous and immoral bid by the greedy corrupt fossil fuel industry to lock us into their product for generations to come.
The Midcat pipeline is especially perverse. It is being promoted to ‘bring African gas to Europe’ when the capacity of the present pipelines from Algeria can’t supply even half of Iberia’s needs. The only use for Midcat will be to pump LNG gas from Barcelona to France (instead of shipping it directly to France). If Midcat is built it will be purely because the EU will pay for it and Spanish politicians will get their cut. Once Midcat is built the argument may shift to ‘we need new pipelines from Algeria to bring in Fracking Gas and make Midcat viable’.
In 2015 the industry, including Halliburton, vowed that their pre.fracking operations in Algeria were ‘squeaky clean’, but activists visited the survey sites and found open overflowing toxic waste lakes and chemicals strewn everywhere. Photos and videos posted on social network sites revealed the absence of facilities to treat water and drilling mud, leading the people of Ain Salah to blow the whistle on Sonatrach’s claims..
Fracked Gas is much much worse, it is at least twice as Bad as Coal for Climate Change, due to inevitable methane leaks. (Indeed some studies have calculated it could be up to 5 times as bad as coal, measurements in the US have never been done despite several million fracking wells being drilled, except in limited cases controlled by the corrupt industry itself. Trump ABOLISHED BY DECREE the voluntary controls which were due to be introduced )
The EU still accepts the fraud of US Frack Gas, under heavy pressure to allow it into Europe, despite being more expensive and twice as climate lethal as its Russian and other competitors.
Th EU is Algeria’s main customer and France is the notorious colonial power. The Fracking contracts have been signed with the European companies TOTAL (France) and CEPSA (Spain) who expect mega profits while destroying the peoples, cultures and ecology of the southern oases, starting with Timimoun and the unique surrounding oasis villages.
Algeria is locked into an exploitative extraction economy with a huge youth baby boom and little employment. It needs to sell more gas and oil to pay its debts to the west. But the people are angry, and rightly so, they lack electricity, gas and basic facilities while their resources are pumped put of the country at knockdown rates.
As a 3rd world country locked into the debt trap Algerians are directly oppressed and forced by the market to subsidise the rich north. An Algerian has to survive on a small fraction of the gas, electricity and income that a European enjoys, and fresh water is an expensive luxury, especially in the desert south where the fracking will occur .
This is modern capitalism in action..”Invest Today in Algerian Debt, guaranteed by Fracking Contracts!”
The elderly benevolent dictator Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is credited with ordering the moratorium on fracking in 2015, is now reportedly bedridden,. The imperialist/colonialist vultures are back in the shape of TOTAL and CEPSA and have convinced the government ( certainly with usual liberal bribes, threats and ‘commissions’ paid into anonymous tax havens) that Fracking is the only way forward to ‘save the country’.In 2015 the entire population if Ain Salah and region came out against fracking, one water defender, Mohamed Anoui was killed by the police.
The role of Total is especially perverse. The company successfully sued Algeria for making ‘excessive profits’. Then it withdrew from the country in a rage when Algeria held out for better conditions in 2015 (as proven by French NGO’s despite a coverup). Now Total is back, with a campaign of lying propaganda (they say they will also promote solar, that they love the Algerian people, and that the fracking in Timimoun, Ahnet, etc. will be in the far future when its due to start almost immediately with 40 wells in the Tight gas field. . see article below).
Algeria revives shale gas with Total and CEPSA
In parallel, Sonatrach and the National Agency for the Development of Hydrocarbon Resources (Alnaft) signed a concession agreement with the French group Total and the Spanish energy firm Cepsa in Algiers for a gas project in Timimoun, reports the National radio.
Expected to be in production from April 2018, the extraction volume of this gas field should reach nearly 5 million m3 / day in plateau. The four partners of this project also signed a contract for the marketing of gas from the same Timimoun field. Three new gas fields, located in Timimoun, Reggane and Touat, are scheduled to start production in the first months of 2018. https://www.tsa-algerie…
Neither Total nor Cepsa have confirmed the fracking permissions and are refusing to comment for fear of another protest uprising.
Fracking in the US requires..on average 16.65 million liters of water for each of the thousands of small wells necessary. More than the yearly consumption of millions of desert people. (A US person uses about 370 liters a day, nearly 10 times the daily consumption of a person in the southern Algerian desert.)
“We are going to do a lot of things together [with Total], especially in shale gas, solar and offshore,” the CEO of Sonatrach promised.A few weeks ago, the Algerian government announced the revival of Fracking gas, almost two years after the mobilization of southern Saharan residents forced it to give up temporarily.
On January 27th, 2015 Algerian PM Sellal announced a moratorium on Fracking gas exploitation until at least 2022 : “Between shale gas and water, the Algerian people will choose water; you think the Algerian state would be crazy enough to endanger the lives of its citizens?” : Algerian PM Sellal in 2015. But now he is ´’crazy enough’.
Timimoun is an Algerian town in the central area of hyper-arid Sahara, a region known by low rainfall not exceeding 100 mm/year. Located 1300 km south of Algiers, Timimoun, is the largest town in a region which includes approximately two hundred small oases and is also known as the “Pearl of Gourara”. Fracking by Total of the colonial power France will likely permanently poison the aquifer by drilling hundreds of small wells in the area. They will split the rocks by explosive fracking as well as using billions of gallons of ultra-scarce water mixed with lethal chemicals to extract the gas and leaving lakes of highly toxic carcenogenic waste liquid.
…/continued from above ..Timimoun is known for its ancient culture, its beautiful palm trees, dates of good quality, and more than 200 small surrounding villages. At the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015, the announcement of hydraulic fracturing drilling in the In Salah region, in the south of the country, provoked an unprecedented revolt among the population, worried particularly for its water sources.
Total’s involvement in the drilling campaign was widely cited, though denied by the French company, which announced that it had withdrawn from the concession concerned, the Ahnet concession a few months earlier.
Total had not denied being involved in another exploratory drilling program using hydraulic fracturing, on the Timimoun deposit, which is now about to enter into operation. (Read the investigation we devoted to the case and the role of Total: Shale gas: Gaz de schiste : les Algériens se mobilisent contre le régime et l’ingérence des multinationales pétrolières ‘Algerians are mobilizing against the regime and the interference of multinational oil companies.’)
The contract signed on the Timimoun deposit consecrates the reconciliation of Total with Algeria, while their relations had been marked in recent years by many conflicts related in particular to taxation. Total sued Algeria in an international arbitration court to challenge the Algerian tax on over-profits made during the boom period. The government of Algiers countered by forcingTotal’s withdrawal from the Ahnet permit.
The Algerian economy is still going through a period of crisis with the decline in the price of hydrocarbons, which explains the government’s decision to revive shale gas. In addition to Total, other multinationals are in the ranks, and in a position of strength to negotiate favorable tax conditions with Algiers.
By R. Mahmoudi – In a public statement, the Algerian Citizen Observatory (OCA), which had already formed a National Collective for a moratorium on shale gas in Algeria, attacks the Ouyahia government on its declaration concerning the resumption of the shale gas project in Algeria, considering it as proof of its inability to provide real solutions to “the perilous economic and financial crisis that the country is experiencing following the collapse of hydrocarbon prices and the absence of a wealth-creating development program “.
The Fracking Gas Committee, known as the 22-member committee, has resumed activity immediately following the announcement of Ahmed Ouyahia and is working to mobilize to try to make the government abandon its project.
The announcement, to say the least, made the day before yesterday by the Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, concerning the authorization of exploitation of the Fracking gas, is very badly received by the inhabitants of In Salah, fiercely opposed to this option. This is likely to revive the protests against shale gas.
Protests that lasted, we remember, several weeks in this city at the beginning of 2015.
“The Prime Minister and his government must know that the citizens of In Salah are still standing on their positions regarding the exploitation and even exploration of shale gas in the region. They are ready, if need be, to block this option that the government does not seem to want to let go, “warned yesterday, a member of the citizen committee group of 22.
Water “more sacred than oil”
The issue at hand in Ain Aalah were that fracking makes severe demands on Sahara’s scarce water resources. Dangers include intensive water use and pollution of groundwater and surface water – issues that are fuelling the citizen movement in Ain Salah. In this dry region, water pollution is “a question of life or death,” said Hocine Malti, a former Sonatrach executive. The population’s main source of income is derived from agriculture, which, without irrigation of palm groves, would suffer intensely.
The official request for a moratorium on shale gas, co-signed by Algerian experts and sent to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on 21 February 2015, highlighted the environmental risks – water pollution, air pollution, earthquakes – as well as health risks. “The primary demand was that investments do not have any ramifications on water,” says Ghazi Hidouci, Algeria’s former minister of Economy and Finance (1989-1991).“The locals know that water is more sacred than oil”.
Sonatrach pledges that it has mastered the fracking method. The company has been drilling for oil in Hassi Messaoud (North-East of Ain Salah) since 1956. Between 2006 and 2010, it allegedly drilled approximately 50 wells per year using fracking methods in this area.“Like other wells, these drilling sites have reached the water table without resulting in any negative impacts on the environment,” argues Said Sahnoun, Acting CEO of Sonatrach.
The company also claims that it does not skimp on environmental protection measures. However, experience shows that there is still a significant proportion of defective wells, even in the U.S.
Unconvinced by the Algerian authorities’ statements, the people of Ain Salah decided to visit the drilling site on February 3rd, 2015. Photos and videos posted on social network sites reveal the absence of facilities to treat water and drilling mud, leading the people of Ain Salah to blow the whistle on Sonatrach’s claims.
Activists also discovered the presence of chemicals such as Ezeflo110, which is used for fracking. These extremely hazardous substances were sitting on pallets when they should be stored securely. This was enough evidence to doubt Sonatrach’s ability to handle waste management and storage of lethal chemicals.
A number of bags and waste containers belonging to Halliburton were also proof that the company has been active on the site. Apparently the company provides technical support for hydraulic fracturing and is not directly involved as an operator.
Timimoun natural gas project development details..Tight gas (fracking) – reservoir,
no date on report...http://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/projects/timimoun-natural-gas-project/
The Timimoun Field Development project, classified as a tight gas reservoir, is among the other natural gas projects in the south-west region of Algeria, such as Touat, Ahnet, In Saleh and Reggane North field projects.
The gas is projected to begin flowing in 2018, The project is 51% Sonatrach, 37.75% Total, and 11.25% Cepsa (But Cepsa is half owned by Total). ‘Tight’ gas refers to fracking techniques see …Tight gas – Wikipedia
The Timimoun field was explored and appraised from 2003 with the drilling of six wells. A total of 40 production wells have been planned to tap eight structures spread across an area of 2,500km². The scope of the project includes starting operations of the eight structures, the execution of seismic surveys, drilling of the gas wells and construction of natural gas treatment facilities.
Infrastructure at the Algerian natural gas field
The project involves the construction of gas gathering facilities, a gas treatment plant and processing facilities. The infrastructure includes the construction of a pipeline intended to be developed by Sonatrach. The 180km pipeline, called the GR5 pipeline, will carry gas from the gas fields in south-western Algeria to Hassi R’Mel gas hub.
The new infrastructure also supports the exploration and development of the Ahnet natural gas project located in the Salah region. Ahnet is also largely controlled by Total and is a fracking Tight gas field.
REPORT FROM 2015 Anti Frack Uprising
by Sophie Chapelle January 9, 2015
It’s been a week since the Algerian Sahara was won by mobilizations against the exploitation of shale gas. Since January 1, the day during which 1,500 people gathered in In Salah, “the city is like paralyzed, still under the shock of this extraordinary mobilization,” notes the Algerian daily El Watan. Shops, schools and administrations are closed. Initially launched by the environmental NGO In Salah Sun & Power, the protest was joined by the local population, including many women and children.
Tens of thousands of Algerians took part in protests across the country, calling for national dialogue and a halt to all shale gas operations. The government’s initial response included forcefully dispersing a sit-in in Algiers and arresting around 12 participants, as well as banning a protest on January 17th. Clashes with the police took at least one life–21-year-old Mohamed El Noui died during a protest on January 4th.
A protester killed
The movement spread to several nearby localities (In Ghar, Iguestene, Sahla Tahtania …) and further north in Saharan oases like Ghardaia. The death of a 21-year-old protester, Mohamed El Noui, on 4 January, after clashes with the police, revived the mobilization. On January 6, more than 2,000 people, including many students and teachers, took part in a march in the streets of Tamanrasset, “as a sign of solidarity with the people of In Salah,” notes El Watan.
These mobilizations follow the statements made by the Algerian Minister of Energy on December 27, 2014, which hailed the success of the first shale gas pilot drilling in the Ahnet region – a well located some 35 km from the city of Ahnet.
Oct 2017.. Fracking Resistance in Algeria begins again
In Algeria, meetings of anti-Fracking gas activists took place this Saturday, October 14, 2017 in different cities of the country. The exploration of this unconventional gas was suspended since major events in 2015. But in early October, the Prime Minister asked the Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil company, to restart exploration.
original en Francais
Sonatrach, la compagnie nationale algérienne, vient de signer avec Total un accord qui ouvre la voie à l’exploitation du champ de gaz non conventionnel de Timimoun. Un contrat qui signe la réconciliation entre Total et l’Algérie, au moment où cette dernière annonce la relance du gaz de schiste. « Nous allons faire beaucoup de choses ensemble [avec Total], notamment dans le gaz de schiste, le solaire et l’offshore », a promis le PDG de la Sonatrach.
Il y a quelques semaines, le gouvernement algérien annonçait la relance du gaz de schiste, presque deux ans après que la mobilisation des habitants du sud saharien l’ait contraint à y renoncer provisoirement.
Un nouveau pas est franchi aujourd’hui avec la signature d’un accord entre Sonatrach et Total en vue de l’exploitation et de la commercialisation du gaz provenant du gisement de Timimoun, que les deux firmes possèdent conjointement avec l’espagnole Cepsa.
Il s’agit de « tight gas », un gaz non conventionnel dont l’extraction nécessite de recourir à la technique très controversée de la fracturation hydraulique, comme pour le gaz de schiste. Le nouveau PDG de Sonatrach, Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour, a été clair sur les perspectives ouvertes par ce partenariat : « Notre relation avec Total est actuellement bonne. Nous allons faire beaucoup de choses ensemble, notamment dans le gaz de schiste, le solaire et l’offshore. »
Fin 2014 et début 2015, l’annonce de forages par fracturation hydraulique dans la région d’In Salah, tout au sud du pays, avait provoqué une révolte inédite de la population, inquiète notamment pour ses sources d’eau. L’implication de Total dans cette campagne de forage avait été largement évoquée, quoique démentie par l’entreprise française, qui a annoncé s’être retirée de la concession concernée, la concession d’Ahnet, quelques mois auparavant.
Total n’avait pas démenti être impliquée dans une autre campagne de forages exploratoires par fracturation hydraulique, sur le gisement de Timimoun aujourd’hui sur le point d’entrer en opération. (Lire l’enquête que nous avions consacrée à l’affaire et au rôle de Total : Gaz de schiste : les Algériens se mobilisent contre le régime et l’ingérence des multinationales pétrolières.)
Le contrat signé sur le gisement de Timimoun consacre la réconciliation de Total avec l’Algérie, alors que leurs relations avaient été marquées ces dernières années par de nombreux conflits liés notamment à la fiscalité. Total avait poursuivi l’Algérie devant un tribunal arbitral international pour contester la taxe algérienne sur les sur-profits réalisés durant la période de boom pétrolier. Le gouvernement d’Alger avait rétorqué en mettant en cause notamment le retrait de Total du permis d’Ahnet.
L’économie algérienne traverse une période de crise avec la baisse du cours des hydrocarbures, ce qui explique la décision gouvernementale de relancer le gaz de schiste. Outre Total, d’autres multinationales sont sur les rangs, et en position de force pour négocier avec Alger des conditions fiscales favorables.
L’Algérie se remobilise
En Algérie, des réunions de militants anti-gaz de schiste ont eu lieu ce samedi 14 octobre dans différentes villes du pays. L’exploration de ce gaz non conventionnel était suspendue depuis d’importantes manifestations en 2015. Mais début octobre, le Premier ministre a demandé à la Sonatrach, la compagnie étatique algérienne d’hydrocarbures, de relancer l’exploration.
Multinationals Observatory published a report on Total and Algerian shale gas, which investigates the role of Total, as well as that of both Algeria and France, and highlights the issues at hand (read the report in French).
The Green MEP José Bové published an article that questions the French giant’s 2015 claims. “Just the fact that Total is considering drilling for shale gas in the desert illustrates once again that this company is reprehensible.”
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