Algeria Shelves Shale Gas Plans Until 2022 Amid Fierce Protests

By On January 28, 2015 5:42 pm

Middle East Eye

By MEE Staff

Algeria has announced that its flagship plan to exploit reserves of shale gas will not begin until 2022.

Algeria’s Prime Minister, Abdel Malek Sellal, said last week that the exploitation of shale gas “is not on the current agenda – we are just thinking about it”.

In early January Algeria announced plans for a $70bn investment in the technology, as prices for its main export, crude oil, fell to a six-year low.

The plans were announced despite weeks of fierce and rare protest in Algeria’s desert south, particularly the town of In Salah, where the pilot well was sunk.

Extracting shale gas relies on a controversial technology known as fracking, which involves blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release hydrocarbons trapped between layers of rock.

While some scientists say the process is harmless, others warn that the technique risks causing earthquakes and contaminating local water supplies.

Speaking on state television last week, Sellal suggested that, though the fracking plans have been temporarily shelved, they could eventually be completely scrapped.

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