Oil output in Tunisia dropped to 37,800 bpd from 70,000 bpd in 2010, said the Entreprise Tunisienne d'Activites Petrolieres (ETAP). It revealed a decline in output by 8 percent last year compared to 2018.
The dip in output let to a drop in natural gas production by 15 percent at the end of 2019. This caused a rise in the energy deficit to 5 million tons and made it double 13 folds between 2010 and 2018, threatening financial balances and their impact on the trade balance.
The trade balance reached record negative rates that exceeded one third of the trade deficit by around TND19 billion (around USD6.3 billion).
The decline in oil output is attributed to natural drying up of some fields. This was confirmed by the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines, who highlighted the decline in licenses of exploration and drilling in addition to the drop in oil prices in some periods.
This consequently affected the provision of the local demand for fuel, which stood at 95 percent, but has now dropped to 50 percent.
The economy is expected to partially recover in the coming years with operations commencing next month in the biggest gas field. The Nawara field will produce around 2.7 million cubic meters of gas daily, in addition to around 7,000 barrels of petroleum and 3,200 barrels of liquid gas.
Economists expect the Nawara field to reduce the energy deficit by 20 percent and decrease the overall trade deficit by 7 percent. This would have a direct return on economic growth anticipated at 1 percent.
Investments in the field are estimated at around TND3.5 billion (around USD1.2 billion).