Tunisia will export 4 million cubic metres of gas per day to Italy starting from the end of 2012, the head of the North African country's state energy firm said. "It will be 4 million cubic metres a day starting from 2012, the end of 2012," Khaled Becheikh, CEO of ETAP, told reporters on the sidelines of the Energy Exchange North Africa Oil and Gas Summit in the Tunisian capital.
Becheikh said most of the gas will be exported through the Transmed pipeline, which runs from Algeria via Tunisia to the Italian island of Sicily, while smaller quantities will be transported as liquified natural gas.
Tunisia turned into an oil and gas importer in 2001 when its domestic demand surpassed supply. It says it aims to increase its gas production through exploration and re-developing existing fields, in partnership with foreign partners.
One oil industry analyst expressed doubts that Tunisia could become a significant gas exporter by 2012 because it needed to supply growing domestic needs.
The North African country aims to have 60 percent of its energy generated by natural gas by 2014.
"There is definitely still the potential for more gas within the domestic market so the big question is to see how that demand forecast goes post-2014," Craig McMahon, lead analyst for the Middle East and North Africa for Wood Mackenzie told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
"If that demand is greater than the Tunisians are currently modelling then the focus will once again remain domestic but if it ends up with a similar position, or indeed lower, and gas exploration success remains high then absolutely the options start to be open," he said.