Gas grabs, Algeria

By pushing for long-term exports of gas in a context where the Algerian public is excluded from decision-making and benefits are largely reserved for the regime’s elite, the EU is pursuing a gas grab.


Algeria is the sixth-largest gas exporter in the world, with more than 90% of its pipeline exports going to Spain (34%), Italy (27%), and other European countries. It is also the third-largest source of gas imports to the EU, accounting for 14% of gas imports and 10% of total consumption. Three pipelines currently link Algeria to Europe, and a fourth is being developed with Italy (1)   With reserves of 4.5 trillion cubic meters of gas, Algeria is the eleventh-largest natural gas reserves in the world and the second-largest reserves in Africa, behind Nigeria. The country is also estimated to hold the third largest amount of shale gas resources in the world (1).        An EU-Algeria Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on oil and gas was signed in July 2013 between the European Commission’s President José Manuel Barroso and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. Barroso stated that “Energy is a priority area of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership... Algeria is a key partner for the EU. Natural gas is a strategic issue for both parties: Algeria is a major supplier to Europe, while Europe is by far the largest customer of Algeria.” (2)                         By pushing for long-term exports of gas in a context where the Algerian public is excluded from decision-making and benefits are largely reserved for the regime’s elite, the EU is pursuing a “gas grab.”

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Basic Data
NameGas grabs, Algeria
ProvinceCountry-wide conflict
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 2012, Algeria was the world’s seventh-largest exporter of LNG, exporting about 5% of the world’s total. France was the single largest destination (34%), followed by Turkey (23%), Spain (23 %), Italy (9%), and Greece (6%).

Peak output varies from 55Bcf/y in Timimoun (Total/Sonatrach/Cepsa) to 200 Bcf/y in Ain Salah (BP/Sonatrach).
Type of PopulationUnknown
Start Date01/01/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesSonatrach from Algeria
Repsol from Spain
RWE power (RWE) from Germany
EDISON International from Italy
Total from France
Cepsa from Spain
Partes y Piezas SAC from Peru
BG Group from United Kingdom
Statoil from Norway
Petroceltic from Ireland
British Petroleum (BP) from United Kingdom
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Algeria

European Commission
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAlgeria Solidarity Campaign
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Global warming, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Fires, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Air pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherPerception of ecologically and economic unequal trade, pludering of resources at national level
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite complaints, the plans for exports of gas continue.
Sources and Materials

(1) Hamza Hamouchene and Alfons Pérez (2016). Energy Colonialism: The EU's Gas Grabs in Algeria. Observatory on Debt and Globalisation.
[click to view]

(2) Hamza Hamouchene (2016). The Struggle for Energy Democracy in the Maghreb. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.
[click to view]


Activists accuse Britain of 'gas grab' in Algeria despite human rights abuses. Protesters plan to target investor conference at London Stock Exchange (The Guardian, 2014)
[click to view]

Media Links

Anger brewing in Algeria's sullen south. Algeria's Saharan region has massive reserves of oil and gas - but locals claim they are not reaping the benefits. By Djamila Ould Khettab
[click to view]

Other Documents

A Memorandum of Understanding on energy between Algeria and the EU was initialed on 7 July 2013 by Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorPlatform London
Last update05/07/2017