Natural resources, energy and environment
Algeria is rich in oil and natural gas. The
country's oil is of high quality and sought after in the
world market. The known gas resources are among the
largest in the world and vast areas on land and at sea
are still unexplored. Most of the natural gas covers its
own energy needs.
There are also large iron deposits, and Algeria is
one of the world's largest producers of phosphates. In
addition, there are assets of gold, diamonds, lead,
zinc, mercury with several minerals.
Major exports by Algeria with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Oil was discovered in the Sahara in 1956 and started
extracting two years later. The oil industry was
nationalized around 1970, but 20 years later, the
country re-entered cooperation with private players
abroad via the state-owned oil company Sonatrach. Since
then, many new oil and gas discoveries have been made. A
2006 law guarantees Sonatrach at least 51 percent of
ownership in all joint venture projects. The legislative
changes proposed in 2019 are not expected to affect this
There are five oil refineries in the country.
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Large natural gas producer
Commercial gas extraction began in 1961. Algeria is
the largest natural gas producer in Africa and accounts
for around one fifth of EU gas imports. Three underwater
lines go from the country to Europe (two to Spain, one
to Italy). Gas is also delivered as payment for transit
fees to neighboring Tunisia and Morocco. In addition,
there is shale gas and oil, and the government has given
a clear sign to investigate the mining opportunities of
these assets, which are tied deep down in the bedrock.
Algeria is estimated to have the third largest shale gas
reserves in the world - but they are located in remote
areas and large investments would be needed to exploit
In recent years, oil and gas production has
fluctuated due to bureaucratic delays such as delayed
projects, backlog infrastructure and technical problems.
The country has also had difficulty attracting foreign
investors to new projects. But gas can also be exported
in liquid form, with tankers, and Sonatrach has set its
sights on sales to Asia. In 1964, Algeria became the
world's first commercial producer of liquefied natural
Oil reserves are sufficient for today's production
for about 20 years and gas reserves for over 50 years.
Domestic consumption is rising, which increases the need
for new capacity.
Electricity from gas plants
Electricity is mainly produced in gas-powered power
plants. In addition, hydropower is utilized to a certain
extent and projects have been initiated to extract wind
and solar energy. A nuclear reactor was built with
Chinese assistance in 1993, but fears in the outside
world that the reactor could be used to produce nuclear
weapons plutonium made Algeria two years later signed
the non-proliferation agreement. In 2007, France
promised to support the construction of another Algerian
nuclear reactor and in 2014 Russia pledged to help build
a nuclear power plant. Virtually all Algerians have
access to electricity, but electricity outages are
The water shortage is great in Algeria, which is
largely desert. Many residents lack access to running
water. Over-utilization of existing groundwater
resources was about to lead to a serious crisis,
especially in the fast-growing cities. In recent years,
however, major investments have been made in
desalination plants on the coast and dams in the
country's inland and water transport to the south. Over
a decade, the capacity for desalination of seawater has
increased more than 40 times, to more than 2 million
cubic meters of water a day. Only the Magtaa plant at
Oran in the north-west desalinates half a million cubic
meters a day, which is enough to supply five million
residents with water. It was inaugurated in 2014 as the
largest desalination plant in Africa. 2018, when eleven
desalination plants have been built since 2003, two more
were started to supply western Alger and Blida with
water. When they are ready, it is estimated that
desalination should cover a quarter of the country's
consumption of drinking water.
Theft of drinking water is a recurring problem. In
2017, when the Minister of Water Resources signaled that
the law must be applied more strictly, 10-15 percent of
the country's production of tap water was estimated to
disappear through illegal diversion.
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
1,327 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)
Electricity consumption per person
1362 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
145,400,000 tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
3.7 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
0.1 percent (2015)
Islamist party leaves presidential alliance
The moderate Islamist party The Social Movement for
Peace (MSP) leaves the governing alliance , but the
party retains its ministerial posts in the government.
New media law is adopted
A new law passed by Parliament makes it possible,
inter alia, to start privately owned TV channels (see
Bloody acts of terror
The Islamist group Aqim is carrying out attacks in
two different cities. In one, 18 people are killed and a
total of 50 are injured.
Gaddafi's assets are frozen
The government freezes the assets of Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi and his family in Algeria.
Democratization proposals are presented
The State Committee, which has been tasked with
proposing constitutional changes for increased
democracy, submits its proposals to the government (see
Democratization is promised
Bouteflika talks to the nation and promises to set up
a committee to propose constitutional changes for
Exception laws are lifted
President Bouteflika repeals the state of emergency
that has been in place since 1992, in an attempt to
appease public opinion.
Government-critical demonstrations are held in Oran
and Algiers with demands for democratization. The
demonstrations are brutally beaten by the police.
Extensive street protests
Large demonstrations are held in Algiers with demands
for increased political and civil rights, and against
rising food prices, youth unemployment, housing
shortages and generally low living standards.