Algeria will wait until 2020 before it explores the country's shale gas reserves, the state's news agency Algeria Press Service reported Wednesday.
The Agency reported that the Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that under the instruction of President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the deadlines for studies will be 2020 to better understand the gas potential and to conduct estimates of the underground shale gas reserves.
“We are not at the stage for shale gas exploitation. It is not on the agenda of the government,” said Sellal.
Algeria ranks third in the world's technical-recoverable shale gas resources with around 20 trillion cubic meters (707 cubic feet), according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
"The country has drilled one well in the southern region of the country, and the second well is going to be drilled," the prime minister announced, and added that the drillings are just "experimental", as conventional hydrocarbon resources are sufficient to meet the country's needs until 2037.
Immediately after the wells were drilled in Algeria several weeks ago, protests over environmental concerns erupted in the nearby city of Salah. The protests then expanded to neighboring cities where protesters claimed that shale gas extraction threatens the underground water supply.
Shale gas extraction uses a method called "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking" which means that pressurized water and additional chemicals are pumped into the well to fracture the source rock. Environmentalists say the process could cause many environmental issues, such as contamination of the underground water supply and the creation of small scale earthquakes.
By Nihan Cabbaroglu