2024-04-02

CAIRO / TUNIS / ALGIERS - This investigation shows how – as countries in MENA are seeking to boost gas production to meet European gas demand – they are allowing fracking to take place in fields in order to maximise production. Fracking often takes place near villages and farmland, and threatens the water supply and environmental integrity of the fragile desert regions. 

In Algeria, despite initial protests, ongoing interest in unconventional gas extraction persists due to the country's reliance on gas exports and European demand. Companies like TotalEnergies and Sonatrach are involved in fracking operations focusing on tight gas resources like the Timimoun and El Assel fields.

Similarly, Egypt engages in fracking for domestic needs and exports to Europe, with companies like Capricorn Energy and Tiba Petroleum involved in fields like Obaiyed and Apollonia. Satellite imagery confirms fracking operations near towns, raising concerns about water supply and environmental impact.

In Tunisia, foreign companies like DualEx Energy International have conducted hydraulic fracturing activities in the Bouhajla region, leading to severe environmental and social impacts. Homes developed cracks, water sources were contaminated, and agricultural lands suffered. Despite promises of compensation, affected individuals have not received meaningful recompense.  

The investigation emphasizes the risks of hydraulic fracturing, such as water contamination and seismic disturbances, underscoring the need for sustainable water resource management in Tunisia amidst severe water scarcity issues. Other foreign companies like Cygam, Serinus, Perenco, Shell, and Eni are also implicated in hydraulic fracturing activities in Tunisia, with concerns raised about long-term environmental effects on local communities.   

Photo: Farouk Batiche/AFP via Getty Images.

Team members

Eman Mounir

Eman Mounir is an Egyptian independent data and investigative journalist.

Nick Ferris

Nick Ferris is senior data journalist and investigative reporter based in London.

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