At the opening of the 12th Exploration and Production Conference (EPC’2010), organized by ETAP (Tunisian national oil company)in Tunis from October 11 to 16, , Mounir Bouaziz, Shell EP International’s Vice President Commercial, New Business, LNG (Mena) highlighted the growing importance of natural gas.
Indeed, global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) will probably double during this decade, under pressure from increased demand for imports of gas in Europe, China and other Asian countries and Central Europe.
On this occasion, Mounir Bouaziz kindly accepted to answer our questions.
How do you see the development of the oil market in Tunisia?
We notice now that the interest has shifted to natural gas, and this started two to three years ago. Previously, interest was more in oil.
There is, currently, a new strategy to focus on natural gas.
In this context, I note that there are promising results. Similarly, natural gas is significantly important from an environmental standpoint. It has less emissions of CO2. In addition, it is cheaper to generate power similarly to nuclear and solar energies.
What are the consequences of the economic crisis on the sector?
The economic crisis did not really affect demand for energy in general.
Moreover, oil prices have not decreased, they are constantly at around 70 to 80 dollars per barrel.
In addition and as far as Shell is concerned, demand will double and supply will struggle to meet demand by 2050.
We speak very often of the rise of Iraq. What do you think?
I see that this is clearly the beginning. Iraq could produce in the next 5 or 6 years more than 6 million barrels per day, which is extraordinary, and this will put Iraq at the level of Saudi Arabia.
Recently, the Iraqi Oil Minister announced that the country’s reserves have increased by 25%, so there are a lot of challenges. For the moment, it’s just the first step.
What are the proposed acquisitions of the Shell Company now?
Shell Offshore Tunisia GmbH (“Shell”) signed in April 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Industry and Technology and Tunisian national oil company (ETAP) to conduct hydrocarbons exploration activities in Tunisia.
Under the MOU, two exploration licenses were awarded to Shell for a period of two years with an option of extension for an additional year in the offshore blocks “Raf Raf” and “Azmour,” North East of Tunisia.
The work program includes geological studies and acquisition of 2D seismic data. At the end of the exploration phase, the two sides can convert the prospecting licenses into exploration licenses.
The process of selling Shell Tunisia, how is the state of affairs?
Shell, Vitol and Helios have started exclusive negotiations that focus on the potential acquisition by Vitol and Helios of interests in Shell’s downstream activities in 19 African countries.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, the Shell brand and Shell products would be present in each country and Vitol and Helios will become majority shareholders in companies, while Shell would retain a stake.
In any case, how do you see the future of the Tunisian staff of the company?
This is a sale of shares and the Shell businesses will be sold as companies that continue to operate in the country. This means that employment will remain as it is.
In the case of a share sale, there is continuity of employment and terms and conditions of employment remain intact during the transition period. They may be modified only in conformity with local laws in this area.