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Tunisia’s energy production drops as trade deficit widens

A Bako electric car in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. Clean transport is one of the many sectors that can benefit from HSBC's $1bn fund Reuters/Jihed Abidellaoui
A Bako electric car in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. Clean transport is one of the many sectors that can benefit from HSBC's $1bn fund

Total energy production in Tunisia dropped by 8 percent at the end of June to 8,470 gigawatt hours as the country’s energy trade deficit increased.

Production intended for the local market was also down 5 percent, according to a report released by the National Observatory of Energy and Mines.

Electricity purchases from Algeria and Libya covered 12 percent of local market needs at the end of June.

National power utility company Société Tunisienne de l’Electricité et du Gaz produced 99 percent of the country’s electricity by late June.

Natural gas-fired power generation dropped 8 percent, while electricity production from renewables accounted for 2.5 percent of total production.

Photovoltaic roofs producing 182 megawatts (MW) of electricity were installed in the residential sector and 304 licences were granted for an overall capacity of 79 MW in industrial and tertiary sectors and agriculture.

Peak demand showed a 22 percent drop to 3,566 MW at the end of June against 4,563 MW during the same period last year.

Electricity sales fell 1 percent between late June 2022 and late June 2023. High and medium voltage customer sales also fell 5 percent and 3 percent respectively.

The energy trade deficit, which includes revenues from exported Algerian gas, widened by 5 percent to TND4,262 million ($1,380 million) at the end of June 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to the report.

The value of exports of energy products fell by 28 percent, coinciding with an 8 percent decrease in the value of imports. 

Trade dynamics in Tunisia’s energy sector are highly sensitive to three key factors: traded volumes, the dollar-Tunisian dinar exchange rate and Brent crude oil prices.

In June 2023, Brent crude prices were more than $49 per barrel lower than in June 2022. 

The Tunisian dinar depreciated by 3 percent against the US dollar, the main currency for the exchange of energy products, between the end of June 2022 and the end of June 2023.

At the same time, gas prices recovered from January 2021 onwards, after reaching their lowest point, in dollar terms, in December 2020.

The World Bank has forecast that Tunisia’s economy will grow by around 2.3 percent this year, slightly ahead of the 2.2 percent growth predicted for the wider Mena region.

The Tunisian economy will grow by 3 percent in 2024 and remain at the same level the following year, according to its Global Economic Prospects report.

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