Kerkennah employment protests, Tunisia

The Island of Kerkennah has been the scene of increasing protests against British oil and gas company Petrofac in recent months. The protesters are demanding that Petrofac honour its engagements in local development and employment creation.


Kerkennah is an archipelago in the Gulf of Gabes around 20km from the city of Sfax. The islands are dependent on fishing and agriculture (1).

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Basic Data
NameKerkennah employment protests, Tunisia
ProvinceGulf of Gabès
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 2008, The Chergui field central production facility was handling 20 million standard cubic feet per day.

Current gas production is approximately 30 million standard cubic feet per day.
Level of Investment (in USD)100,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected PopulationKerkennah island population, unemployed graduates
Start Date01/01/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesPetrofac from United Kingdom - Petrofac paid $30 million to acquire a 45-percent stake in Kerkennah’s Chergui gas field. The remaining 55 percent is held by Tunisia’s national oil company Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activitées Pétrolières (ETAP).
Entreprise Tunisienne D’Activitiés Pétrolières (ETAP) from Tunisia - Entreprise Tunisienne D’Activitiés Pétrolières (ETAP), the Tunisian state oil company, holds 55% of the stake in the gas field.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Informal workers
Social movements
Unemployed graduates
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence
OtherNo economic redistribution
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The protesters have made 'business as usual' impossible for Petrofac, and have undoubtedly forced the company to hear their demands.
Sources and Materials

[2] Petrofac (2006). Investment in Tunisian Interest. 09 November 2006.
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[3] Hamza Hamouchene (2016). Kerkennah: on the frontline of resistance to the fossil fuel industry in Tunisia. Open Democracy. 4 June 2016.
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[4] Laryssa Chomiak (2016). The revolution in Tunisia continues. Middle East Institute. 22 September 2016.
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[1]. Julie Al-Zoubi (2016). Gas Company’s Olive Oil Press Fails to Ease Tensions on Tunisian Island. Olive Oil Times. December 6, 2016
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EBRD (2015). Associated gas utilization report for Tunisia.
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Other Documents

The island of Kerkennah has been the scene of increasing protests in recent months (Credit: AFP)
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The island of Kerkennah has been the scene of increasing protests in recent months (Credit: AFP)
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Meta Information
ContributorPlatform London
Last update16/03/2017