Tunis — Royal Dutch Shell has informed Tunisian authorities it will hand back upstream concessions and leave the country next year as it turns its focus to renewable energy, Rania Marzouki a senior official in the energy ministry, told Reuters.
Shell’s departure will mean the Miskar concession in southern city of Gabes will be handed back to the government, she said, and Shell has also requested the early hand-back of the Asdrubal permit, which expires in 2035.
Reuters quoted industry sources last month saying that Shell had hired investment bank Rothschild & Co. to sell its Tunisian assets, while Italy’s Eni had hired Lazard to run its own sale and Austria’s OMV also planned to sell up.
“We can confirm that Shell Tunisia Upstream (Shell) will be handing back the Miskar concession to the Government of Tunisia upon licence expiry in June 2022,” a spokesperson for Shell said on Wednesday.
He added that the decision does not impact the ongoing brand licence agreement in the country with Vivo Energy, which distributes and markets Shell products to retail and commercial customers in Africa. “Shell will continue to assess other opportunities in Tunisia beyond the upstream sector,” he said.
The gradual departure of major western energy companies from Tunisia in recent years follows growing frustration with the country’s unstable regulatory and political environment since the 2011 revolution that has led to investments drying up.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara and Ron Bousso, Editing by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle)