|Political Violence and the Prospect of Peace in Algeria|
Dr Youcef Bouandel
Ever since the interruption of the democratic process in January 1992, Algeria has experienced a level of violence hardly seen in any part of the world. Indeed, such led some observers to crown Algeria the world leader in violation of human rights. Depending on the sources, the violence claimed between 100,000 to 200,000 lives, in addition to thousands who have disappeared. Officially, Islamist 'terrorist' groups have been responsible for the massacres. However, recent defectors from the Algerian security forces claim that factions of the Algerian army are behind most of the massacres. They also claim that some terrorist organizations, such as the infamous Groupe Islamic Arme (GIA) are the creation of the Algerian secret services. Regardless of the explanations one may have regarding the violence, the authorities credibility has been tarnished by its non-assistance to endangered civilian villagers being massacred in the vicinity of military barracks.
Before one can address the prospect of peace in Algeria, it is vital to discuss the attempts made so far in the quest for peace. These attempts and their shortcomings provide the necessary background to any discussion relating to the future of political stability in Algeria.
During Algeria's painful near civil war conditions, the successive authorities in Algiers have implemented reforms to attempt to reduce the violence and establish civic peace. Former president Liamine Zeroual introduced the Rahma (clemency) Law: an attempt to put an end to the violence, which provided that the 'terrorists' who gave themselves up would be treated leniently. Nonetheless, the most spectacular of these attempts to end the violence came after April 1999. The date marked the 'election' of current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. During his election campaign, Bouteflika promised to put an end to the violence that had been ripping the country apart for the previous seven years. Indeed, in July 1999 Bouteflika introduced the Law on Civil Harmony: an attractive package to disarm 'terrorist' groups. In order to give this Law more credibility, in addition to its adoption by the Parliament, the President introduced a referendum in September 1999. The Law on Civil Harmony excluded the death penalty, regardless of whether the Algerian Penal Code provided for it or not. For crimes involving collective massacres, the Law stipulated a maximum imprisonment period of twenty years. Other penalties were less severe, depending on the nature of the crime committed. This Law offered exemption from prosecution if the offence had not involved death, even if they were involved in acts of 'terrorism and subversion.' However, these measures were conditioned upon the armed groups voluntary surrender to the authorities within six months of the adoption of this Law. Failing to give up arms by 13 January 2000, the authorities would engage in a ruthless battle against these armed groups. Before this deadline expired and with a few 'terrorists'only having given themselves up, the President introduced ‘la grace amnistiante’; a controversial measure with no public debate that gave a blanket exemption to two armed groups.
These measures, while permitting the Islamists to surrender voluntarily, have by implication, exonerated members of the security forces from any involvement in the tragedy or judicial consequence. Indeed, it would be absurd to talk about pursuing the security forces - who have been engaged in a relentless war to eradicate 'terrorism' - for alleged massacres and extra judicial killings while the 'terrorists' themselves have benefited from clemency measures and have reintegrated into society. There are also other problems with regard to the transparency of the probation commissions that are empowered to oversee the application of this Law. Where there have been prosecutions, against the military and security forces, they were levied against lower-ranking members.
The President's attempts, while justified and intended to end the violence that have been sweeping the country for almost a decade, are less likely to achieve their intended results. These measures may reduce the level of violence in the short run, but they will leave a lot of questions unanswered.
Since Bouteflika came to power, in April 1999, the levels of violence have been drastically reduced. As a matter of fact, not only have Non-Governmental Organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, been invited to the country after an absence of four years - in the case of Amnesty - they were free to visit different parts of the country and testified to the improvements. Yet, it does not mean that the problem has been resolved. The Algerian press continues to report massacres on a regular basis in different parts of the country. What the Algiers authorities have tried to achieve thus far is peace by Decree. The President initiates, the Parliament passes and the population vote in a referendum for a law and suddenly peace is expected to be the end result. However, history shows that this is not the case. Peace can only be achieved once justice is seen to prevail. Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatemalan Nobel Peace laureate succinctly put it: 'Peace without justice is only a symbolic peace.'
Despite these improvements, the regime in Algiers still lacks popular legitimacy. The population's almost total obliviousness to the recent legislative, local and regional elections - given the very low turnout - is the most uncontested example. What makes the situation even more disturbing and questions the extent to which peace has been achieved are the tragic events of Kabilya. The region, which has been at the forefront of so many demands - political, social, economic and cultural - has been very unstable for almost two years now. The region's challenge to the authorities in Algiers has not only been serious, but resulted in more instability and loss of
life. The continuous instability in the region, which had temporary ramifications on other parts of the country, has seriously questioned the extent to which peace may prevail in the country.
The violence that has been ripping through Algeria for the last decade is arguably not beyond the control of the Algerian authorities. However, the relative inattention of western governments has not helped either. The Algerian authorities are quick to point to interference in their internal affairs. Here, France's position is particularly delicate. The love-hate relationship that exists between the two countries has put France in a better position compared to the rest of the world to influence, at least on an informal level, the development of events in Algeria. However, being the former colonial power, elements of Algerian society would still resist what they perceive to be meddling in their affairs.
The continuous violence certainly has benefited many people in the country. The violence exacerbated the corruption and led many people to accumulate illicit fortunes. Moreover, the manner in which the violence could be ended has not been well thought. The attempts that have been made so far, especially the Law on Civil Harmony, have been rather one sided. Thus, a just and comprehensive peace can only be achieved once justice is seen to prevail. This could take the shape of a Truth Commission that would shed more light and identify the shared responsibilities of the massacres. After the responsibilities are shared, reconciliation can begin and peace can be
Dr Youcef Bouandel is Senior Lecturer in Politics, Department of Policy Studies, University of Lincoln, UK.
Natural Gas Europe had the pleasure to be a guest at the recent third Mare Forum that took place in the historical city of Paphos in Cyprus. The conference gathered politicians and executives from the oil, gas, shipping and maritime industries who engaged in a constructive dialogue mainly centered around oil and gas exploration and production, distribution and transportation of Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe and the world and regional and world geopolitics. The speakers gave useful presentations containing updates on Cyprus’ onshore LNG terminal project, information on the scheduled drilling activities offshore Cyprus and insight on the island’s export options and on the targeted export markets.
In 2011, Noble Energy discovered the Aphrodite field in Block 12 of Cyprus’ EEZ. The field’s gross resource was later estimated at 3.6 to 6 Tcf with a mean of 5 Tcf. Additional appraisal activities in the field are anticipated in the short term, said John Tomich, Cyprus country manager for Noble Energy at the third mare forum in Paphos. Given the modest domestic demand for natural gas in Cyprus, most of the natural gas found in the island’s EEZ will be allocated for exports. Georges Shammas, Chairman of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, highlighted that Cyprus’ internal market is estimated to consume less than 1 bcm a year. The hydrocarbon wealth carries a big promise to Cyprus’ financially hit economy. The country’s planned onshore LNG terminal in Vassilikos can help provide long term economic stability added Tomich. The project would constitute the largest investment in the island’s history said Solon Kassinis, founder of Kassinis International Consulting Ltd. and previous Executive Vice President of the Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Company Ltd. (CNHC). He added that the LNG project in Vassilikos would create thousands of jobs in the energy industry and the support industries and generate substantial revenues that would significantly enhance the economy.
Building an onshore LNG terminal would allow Cyprus to play the role of an energy hub, processing gas from neighbouring countries to export markets. An LNG export terminal would also allow Cyprus to generate revenue from the sale of gas to export markets. An LNG terminal would provide the island the flexibility to reach lucrative markets regardless of their geographical location. Cyprus will however need to encounter sufficient amounts of gas before taking a final investment decision regarding the LNG project.
Additional quantities of natural gas will be required to commercially justify a ~5 MTPA train size project in the Vassilikos coastal area of Cyprus, explained Tomich. He added that there is a significant exploration potential in Cyprus’ EEZ. Noble Energy will be conducting further exploratory drilling in a new structure of Block 12 of Cyprus’ EEZ that it operates with a working interest of 70%, Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration having each a 15% working interest in Block 12. In his welcome speech at the mare forum, Shammas revealed good indications from seismic surveys of another six smaller fields in Block 12 estimated to hold 2 tcf each. ENI-Kogas will be drilling in Blocks 2, 3 and 9 of Cyprus’ EEZ in the third quarter of 2014, followed by Total that will be drilling in Blocks 10 and 11 of Cyprus’ EEZ in 2015 revealed Shammas.
Tomich said that exports from the Israeli fields could supplement the Cypriot LNG project. He also exposed alternative development options in the event the onshore project is not viable in an appropriate time frame: a FLNG could be the solution to reach export markets while a pipeline solution would allow Cyprus to reach regional markets, including Egypt’s export LNG plants. Kassinis added that a pipeline through Turkey to Europe is a no-go option for Cyprus as it would give Turkey control over the flow of Cypriot gas. He said that a pipeline to Turkey is only possible on the condition a solution to the Cypriot problem is found first. Kassinis said that the strong ties between Cyprus and Greece suggest that a pipeline through Greece to Central Europe via Italy is an option. He highlighted however that the pipeline scenario would limit flexibility and a pipeline to Greece could prove technically (due to the depth of the sea) and economically unfeasible.
In his presentation, Kassinis highlighted the growing trend in natural gas consumption in the EU paralleled with a declining trend in natural gas production and in the imports from Norway. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts global gas demand will rise to about 140 Tcf by 2020 from 117 Tcf in 2012 (IEA, 2012). Current commercial analysis suggests that 9–10 Tcf of the additional 23 Tcf of demand will be in the form of LNG. Part of this demand could potentially be satisfied by expansion of existing facilities and possibly through future US LNG exports. However, it is very likely that there will still be some additional demand to be satisfied by completely new LNG production cap, said Kassinis.
Kassinis sees a window of opportunity for Cyprus to sell its newly found hydrocarbon wealth to the European market given his belief that the share of natural gas in the EU’s energy portfolio will remain high and that the EU maintains reservations against the exploitation of shale gas in Europe. Shammas said that Cyprus’ development plan of the LNG infrastructure is in line with Europe’s energy policy regarding diversification of sources, routes and suppliers of natural gas to enhance security of supply and competitiveness. Kassinis concluded that the Eastern Mediterranean could be a new and secure source of natural gas to Europe, adding that the Asian markets are also attractive to Cyprus.
Karen Ayat is an analyst focused on energy geopolitics. Email Karen on email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @karenayat
The South Stream pipeline project seems to be facing an existential crisis following ferocious opposition by the European Commission and strong disagreement from the US. Despite the ongoing upturns regarding these issues, a new set of developments shed new light into the situation and provides clues as to how it may evolve.
To begin, at a recent official visit in Sofia by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Minister Lavrov noted that the project is going forward, reaffirming the support of the incumbent Bulgarian government, despite the fact that the latter decided to temporarily postpone construction. More importantly, Lavrov commented that South Stream is not subject to the EU's Third Energy Package, since bilateral agreements were signed before the drafting and agreement of the package. Furthermore, Lavrov elaborated that according to the basic rules of both national and international laws, a new law cannot have a precedent authority.
He also added that the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which is a newer project, had readily been given an exemption from the energy package. In that sense, Lavrov outlined the two basic legal arguments by which Gazprom may eventually use in the international courts. Despite the fact that one may add that TAP is actually a diversification tool aimed at curbing Gazprom’s dominance in Europe, that does not change the core of the argument - adherence or not and how of legal regulations. Moreover, South Stream does not necessarily compete with TAP, since it will not add new volume on the market, but simply bypass an existing route.
From the Bulgarian side, agreement on the above was provided by Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin and from the Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski who in turn added that the suspension of the works for the pipeline are temporary in nature and that the project is for the best strategic interest of both his country and the rest of the EU's twenty seven member states. Since the South Stream project is inexorably related to the wider Ukrainian issue and the warlike conditions in that country, it is of interest that Sofia sided indirectly but firmly with the Russian stance, calling for a ceasefire and dialogue amongst the rebels and the Kiev government, whilst it requested from the Ukrainian authorities to protect and enchase the rights of the sizeable Bulgarian minority in this country, a goal also espoused by Kremlin and noted in a speech of President Putin in April this year.
It can be concluded that the reference to Ukraine was a mark aimed at relaying the message to Brussels that despite the ongoing debacle South Stream, bilateral relations between Sofia and Moscow remain strong, thus discussion is needed in order to solve the pipeline problem. A similar diplomatic language is heard by Hungary in relation to both Ukraine and South Stream
Concurrently, another Southeast European country, Slovenia, which is also part of South Stream, recently gave its commitment to the gas project. “We want South Stream to pass through our territory,” said the head of the Slovenia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs Karl Erjavec.
Lastly, Serbia through its Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic who visited Russia in early July, backed the South Stream route and added that all important aspects have been solved and construction is ready to go and that local companies are mainly going to be involved.
At the Energy Security Summit 2014 in Berlin, Germany, Udo Niehage, Senior Vice President, Head of Government Affairs Berlin and Company Representative for the German Energy Transition, Siemens AG, introduced the session dedicated to “New Energy Markets and Security of Supply,” noting that there had been a clear shift in the power sector towards electrification. He explained, “Based on our own company analysis, we expect that electricity consumption will grow until 2030 annually by an average 2.7%, while energy consumption in total globally will only grow by 2%.
“Within the next 16 years we will add the same generation capacity as is installed today. Looking at the primary source, gas-fired power plants and renewable generation have the strongest growth rates, but in 2030 coal-fired power plants will still remain the most important.”
Despite strongly investing in renewables, Mr. Niehage noted that conventional generation capacity including nuclear would still account for more than 60%. Still, renewables generation would double by 2030 and gas-fired generation would also almost double. Total electricity generation, he said, would grow by 60%.
He showed the “dominating energy nations” according to geography. “Not surprisingly, the strongest economies and countries with the highest population – the US, India and China - account until 2030 for almost 50% of the global installed capacity and the corresponding generational consumption,” he noted.
This meant, he said, that such economies heavily depended on secure supply of conventional energy: coal, but especially gas.
“The US is able to go for affordability, independence and sustainability – meaning declining CO2 emissions, which is achievable because of shale gas,” explained Mr. Niehage, who said that in 2035 shale gas would contribute over 50% of total gas production in the US, but in 2000 it had only been 2%.
He said that by 2020 at the latest the US was poised to become a net exporter of gas, cementing its status as a game-changer. The price for gas gave America a significant competitive edge, according to him, especially in light of the higher prices for gas in Asia.
“In other global regions, shale gas resources are remarkable,” he added, explaining that traditional gas importers could establish their energy independence via their unconventional resources. It was particularly true for China, he said, whose untapped unconventional resources could account for 30% of gas production in 2030.
“No doubt, systematic production of shale gas can and will impact global markets and the global economy,” he said, with traditional oil and gas exporters and like Russia and the Middle East potentially enduring negative effects.
“This might lead to the situation that those exporters need markets like 'good old Europe',” he said, wondering whether this might open up an opportunity for the continent.
“Our future energy supply will depend on conventional and renewable resources,” he said. “I mean coal, gas, nuclear and renewable.”
Germany continued to make significant investment into renewables, while strong growth of more affordable gas generation could be observed in the US, Asia and the Middle East.
Of the former phenomenon, Mr. Niehage said: “Unfortunately, this direction leads to faster rising power prices in Europe in comparison to other economies, and as a consequence this might have a significant impact upon the industrial global footprint long-term or even mid-term, in case new investments in energy intensive activities move to the US, and later new investments into manufacturing might follow.”
Shale gas was, no doubt, a game-changer for companies like Siemens and for industry overall.
How it was possible to implement all of the objectives of politicians?. Was Europe might missing the boat talking about renewables prices when energy transformations were happening elsewhere? This was addressed by Markus Kerber, Managing Director and Member of the Board, Federation of German Industries.
He noted that Europe had taken a tremdendous hit from the global financial crisis and recalled that 4-5 years ago that the Economist had reported on shale gas, that it would make for a major readjustment in the world of energy. “Nobody took notice of that in Germany,” he remarked. “I think Germany as the core nation within Europe will have to, slowly but surely, wake up with its European neighbors to this total reversal of flows that we see in the world. After 50 years, the US will become an exporter of energy rather than an importer, and this will create a huge pull factor for capital, especially industrial capital.”
Mr. Kerber added that for him the key challenge was meeting customers who were able to sign on for 10-15 year contracts at about half the kilowatt hour price. This made for an unintended move of capital from Europe to the US as one major change; the second one, he explained, would be in the reverse-flow of industrial products and services, where the US would become much more competitive, “Because even if they didn't get our companies to invest there, a major major boost in competitiveness, and the more energy intensive you are, you're getting a superb economic boost at at time when the whole world of industry is changing from a more tangible world into a more digital, intangible world.”
He said it was a “double whammy” for the United States of America. “They can only win in this game,” he explained, “and everyone else will see a relative state of decline in their competitiveness and that's what we have to make our governments aware of in Europe: we need cheap and available energy, otherwise the capital will got to the US and other pockets of the world.”
This, he added, was evidenced by BASF's announcement that only half of its R&D efforts would take place in Germany, while 60% of cars in Germany were not German-made. Would German industry stay in Germany? he asked.
According to the European Commission EUR 1 trillion of investment is needed into Europe's energy sector by 2020, but how would it possible for the sector to make such investments given the uncertainty? This was the question addressed by Alf Henryk Wulf, CEO, Alstom Germany, who said there was no “silver bullet” answer. He explained, “The clarity of the framework in which to invest is one of the most important factors for any investment to be allocated. Energy infrastructures tend to be really long-term, so it's no problem to speak with a customer about a repayment scheme of 30 years – it's not strange.
“You need a framework which lasts that long,” he continued. “That's the issue right now."
Energy investment, he said, needed to have a long-term commitment to see through its implementation, but that was not always on hand. One strategy was trying to diversify into different technologies which might be less risky or less subject to a certain decisions, he said.
There were, he reported, power plants that were running but not making any money as they were necessary from a systematic point-of-view, but it wasn't a sustainable situation because of the lack of profit. Mr. Wulf commented: “The discussion now is 'how do we move the framework in a way so at some point they become viable again?'”
How does a developing economy like Lithuania's deal with one of the highest gas prices in Europe?
Jaroslav Neverovič, Minister of Energy, Republic of Lithuania, explained that his country had recently successfully negotiated a reduction in price with Gazprom. “Technically speaking, we are more or less back to the level of the German gas price, which is good news for our customers, for our industry because this is a simple question of competitiveness – not to mention that our people pay much more for heating bills than people in southern Europe.”
According to him, this case was an example when European policies were starting to work as they were being implemented in the Baltic states via diversification and de monopolization.
Making mention of the prospect of LNG exports from the US, Mr. Neverovič said Europe needed to do its homework and prepare itself for a global gas market, finish the common energy market, building interconnectors and creating alternative routes of supply as well as allowing indigenous sources of energy to be developed, whether they be biomass or shale gas.
Of Lithuania's pending LNG terminal, he said it would be the first alternative route of supply that would cover the entire potential demand of Lithuania as well as that of Latvia and Estonia.
Drew Leifheit is Natural Gas Europe's New Media Specialist.
The U.K. may need to boost natural gas imports to 91 percent from 56 percent without production from shale rock, exposing the nation to global prices for the fuel, according to National Grid Plc.
Imports may reach 71 billion cubic meters (2.5 trillion cubic feet) a year by 2035 without shale gas output and with limited development of offshore fields, National Grid said in its Future Energy Scenarios report published today. The No Progression scenario is based on a slow economic recovery without new environmental targets and gas remaining a preferred choice for power generation over renewables.
“The 90 percent dependency is very, very high,” Richard Smith, head of energy strategy and policy at National Grid, told reporters in London yesterday. “The ultimate implication is that it exposes us more to the global market for gas, which is a price exposure.”
Senior executives of Russia's biggest natural gas producer Gazprom on Wednesday held talks with Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak and their aides. After the meeting, Minister Vrdoljak said they discussed Croatia's energy policy and touched upon the future South Stream gas pipeline and Croatia's oil and gas group INA, making no major conclusions.
Russia and Italy have confirmed their goal of completing the South Stream gas pipeline, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“Today we confirmed our goal on completing the construction project of the South Stream gas pipeline. We confirmed our intention to continue active work in order to remove all issues that may arise, including in regard to dialogue with the European Commission and taking into account intergovernmental agreements that have been signed by the participating countries in the project,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Moscow with his Italian counterpart Federica Mogherini.
The South Stream pipeline, expected to carry Russian gas across the Black Sea to Southern and Central European countries, is aimed at diversification of export routes for Russian gas.
TPAO, Turkey's state-owned upstream operator, is in talks with ExxonMobil over a possible joint venture to investigate the potential of the country's shale gas reserves, an energy ministry official told Platts Wednesday.
The talks cover possible reserves in Turkey's European province of Thrace and in the country's southeast, said the official who was unable to confirm what stage the discussions had reached.
In 2011, TPAO signed a joint venture with Shell to prospect the huge Dadas shale formation in the Diyarbakir region of southeast Turkey.
‘Discussions about the progress of the Southern Corridor (SC) gas pipeline route will be on the agenda when Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon visits Azerbaijan this week (9-11 July),’ the Department of Energy & Climate Change wrote on Wednesday.
While having potential problems with indigenous production, the country is increasingly voicing the need to diversify European gas sources.
“This visit is an important opportunity to reinforce the importance of the Southern Corridor pipeline and the significant role it will play in ensuring Britain’s security of energy supply. Increasing the diversity of the European energy mix is particularly important in the context of current events in Ukraine. The recent series of UK ministerial visits to the region underline the value we place on pushing ahead with this key infrastructure project,” Fallon commented.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics released figures about North Sea oil and gas companies, whose profits plunged from 31.1% in the last three months of 2013 to 27.6% in the first quarter of the current year.