Tunis — Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said "laws related to the energy sector, particularly hydrocarbon exploration permits and their extension need to be passed swiftly."
He stressed in an exclusive interview with TAP that the "issue must be handled away from partisan politics, adding that only the national interest has to be upheld." "Nobody has the right to block, for any reason, oil permits," he emphasised, saying "Tunisia cannot afford such a continued blockage, while it is fighting the terrorist threat that requires securing supply sources."
"The non-adoption of laws on the energy sector, does not serve the country's interest," according to the Prime Minister. It rather "sends negative signals to foreign investors and particularly those operating in Tunisia, especially if they are accused of corruption or called vampires."
These blockages have proved very costly for Tunisia, he stressed as they resulted in increased deficit in the energy balance due to lower export of crude oil (-11%) and increased natural gas imports (+66.9%).
Production of crude oil and natural gas fell 15% which led to a negative growth of non-manufacturing industries (-5.8%), resulting in a decline in growth rate to 2% in the first quarter of 2014 and 2.1% in the first half of 2014. "This rate is short of expectations," according to the Prime Minister.
Mehdi Jomaa also noted that the energy sector "is well regulated and governed by advanced laws organising hydrocarbon production, prospection and exploration.