As estimated by Oil and Gas Journal, Tunisia had modest proven oil reserves of 308 million barrels as of January 2006. The majority of Tunisia's oil reserves are located in the Gulf of Gabes and the Ghadames Basin in the southern part of the country. In 2005, Tunisia produced around 75,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil. This represents a 37 percent decline from Tunisia’s peak output of 120,000 bbl/d between 1982 and 1984. Currently, the country's domestic oil production capacity cannot meet the country's consumption demand, which in 2005, was 94,000 bbl/d. Tunisia should to be able to supply at least part of its own petroleum needs for the next decade, but significant production thereafter will be contingent upon new discoveries.
The majority of Tunisia’s oil production (73 percent) comes from six concessions, which include Adam, Ashtart, Didon, El Borma, Miskar and Oued Zar. The remaining production comes from 26 smaller concessions.
The Tunisian government created the country’s state-owned oil company, Enterprises Tunisienne d'Activités Petrolières (ETAP), in 1972. ETAP’s mission is to manage the oil and natural gas exploration and production activities for the Tunisian government. ETAP has worked to attract foreign firms to fund oil exploration, particularly of the country's smaller fields. To help achieve this, Tunisia reformed its hydrocarbons laws in August 2000. One of the most important provisions of the new laws for foreign firms is a reduction in the tax rate from 75 percent to 50 percent if ETAP takes a 40 percent share of the concession. To date, ETAP has granted a total of 44 exploration licenses to 42 international and domestic companies that operate in the country.
In addition to granting domestic exploration licenses, ETAP is pursuing overseas exploration and production. The company is working in Syria with Preussag of Germany to develop small oilfields and has signed an oil cooperation agreement with Iraq. In December 2004, the Syrian and Tunisian governments signed an agreement to explore for oil in northeastern Syria. ETAP also has joint venture agreements with Sonatrach of Algeria and Libya's National Oil Company.
- Oil production: 81,530 bbl/day (2004 est.)
- Oil proved reserves: 1.7 billion bbl (2006 est.)
- Natural gas production: 2.4 billion cu m (2004 est.)
- Natural gas proved reserves: 77.87 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
- In 2005, Adam field, located in the Borj el Khadra prospect in Ghadames basin, became Tunisia's largest producing oilfield at 18,000 bbl/d. The Borj el Khadra prospect is operated by Agip, with partners Pioneer Natural Resources, Paldin Resources and ETAP. The onshore El Borma oilfield, which Agip discovered in 1964 near the Algerian border, produces around 12,000 bbl/d. This production level is down from the 1985 peak of 70,000 bbl/d.
- Ashtart field, which is operated by ETAP, produces around 11,500 bbl/d.
- In addition to Tunisia’s producing oil fields, foreign and domestic operators are continuing to explore and develop new hydrocarbon discoveries in the country. A partnership between a Tunisian and a Kuwaiti oil firm is drilling an offshore well with expected reserves of 6 million barrels of oil.
- Sweden's PA Resources (PAR) is involved in development and exploration in the Douleb field, the Zarat concession and the Tamesmida field and Sweden's Lundin Petroleum operates a number of offshore fields - notably, the Isis and Oudna fields.
- In February 2004, Tunisian independent HBS Oil Company announced an oil discovery on Djerba Island.
- Petroceltic International plc announced in December 2004 that it had struck both oil and gas at its Sidi Toui 3 well in the Ksar Hadada Block in southern Tunisia.
- In April 2005, the U.A.E.'s Mabdallah Saad al-Thani Corporation announced a five-year exploration agreement with ETAP for the El Jem block, while U.S.-based Rigo Oil Company announced an exploration agreement for the Tozeur-Sud block.
- In February 2006, Tunisia awarded Petro Canada and Anadarko 2-year, production sharing agreements (PSAs) with ETAP for the Cape Sirat and Bashtar blocks.
- In February 2006, a 35-year-old oil exploration dispute between Tunisia and Malta came to a close. The two countries signed an agreement that provides for joint oil development of the continental shelf between Malta and Tunisia. The ministers who signed the agreement are hopeful of finding oil in the continental shelf area, which is located near the Tunisian Isis field and Libya’s offshore Bouari field.