Since 31 December 2014, the city of Ain Salah in Algeria’s far south has been witnessing a mass protest movement demanding a halt of the exploratory drilling for shale gas initiated by Sonatrach, Algeria’s national Oil and Gas Company. The protest movement has shattered the stereotypical image of the southerners as “pacifists who only obey the orders of their leaders.” Solidarity marches have been held across several cities in Algeria’s south, including the city of Ouargla, home to a significant movement demanding greater share for the youth of the Algerian Sahara from the oil and gas industries. Residents of Ain Salah reject the exploitation of shale gas because fracking constitutes grave environmental and health risks. Extracting these unconventional hydrocarbons by using the technique of hydraulic fracturing requires huge amounts of water, which threatens to deplete the aquifers. Additionally, this technique requires pumping toxic chemical agents into the underground, which could lead to the complete destruction of the cultivation of ancient oases as well as spreading incurablediseases such as cancer. It should be pointed out that the repercussions of the French nuclear experiments in the Algerian desert between 1960 and 1966 still linger.
Algerians Say No to Shale Gas
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