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Algerian Islamists oppose government’s plans for shale gas

Gas barrels [file photo]
Gas barrels [file photo]

The rift has widened between Algeria’s Muslim Brotherhood-related group and Ahmed Ouyahia’s cabinet over the government’s plan to produce shale gas.

Leaders of the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) have made several comments expressing their rejection of shale gas production plans. The previous cabinet failed to implement such plans in 2015 after a wave of opposition protests swept the country, prompting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to announce a freeze on the project.

According to Moroccan news website Almaghrib Today, former MSP head Abderrazak Makri acknowledged the importance of shale gas as a natural resource that could turn into a treasure for Algeria in the future. However, he pointed out that in light of the current shortage of suitable technology and financial conditions, this is the wrong time for the country to take a decision to invest in shale gas.

Makri said that the government’s decision was rushed and was not based on studying the potential return and benefit of shale gas at this stage. He lamented that the country has already used up much of its oil and gas resources over the past 16 years without achieving satisfactory outcomes or the desired economic development.

Read: Algeria’s largest Islamist party insists on taking part in elections

The MSP’s ex-leader, who also wrote in the Algerian media on the same issue, believes that drilling for shale gas will threaten the country’s mineral resources if hydraulic fracturing — so-called fracking — is used rather than advanced methods that could prevent such waste. He warned that drilling for shale gas could threaten the country’s water supplies, which Algerians need for agriculture and for development in general.

Furthermore, Makri pointed out that the decision to exploit shale gas concerns all citizens and future generations. That is why, he insisted, the government should not adopt it unilaterally without taking the views of the Algerian people into consideration.

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