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Algerian tempers fray over southern fracking plans

A popular protest movement against state energy giant Sonatrach’s pilot unconventional gas project in the Ahnet Basin has challenged the leadership in Algiers and generated headlines suggesting that Algeria’s nascent shale development might be put on hold. While reports that Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal has cancelled the unconventional programme are wide of the mark, anti-shale protests across the south have proved a wake-up call for Algiers, which has dispatched an increasing number of senior officials to In Salah with only limited success. Among those caught in the crossfire are said to be energy and mines minister Youcef Yousfi and interim Sonatrach president-director-general (PDG) Saïd Sahnoun, two leading advocates of a big investment in shale.

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