Algeria Energy and Environment Facts

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.

  • COUNTRYAAH: 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 relationship.

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 them.

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 gas (LNG).

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 common.

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.


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 Mass Media).


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 April 2011).


Democratization is promised

Bouteflika talks to the nation and promises to set up a committee to propose constitutional changes for increased democracy.


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.

Continued demonstrations

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.

Algeria Energy and Environment Facts

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