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Algerian premier says plans to exploit shale gas reserves have been scrapped after protests

Algeria’s prime minister announced Wednesday that plans to drill for the country’s abundant shale gas reserves have been scrapped.

The announcement in a television interview came in the wake of a string of protests in the southern desert cities over environmental concerns near where drilling had already begun.

“I confirm that the exploitation of shale gas is not the order of the day as for now Algeria has sufficient reserves of conventional energy to meet its needs,” Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said.

Despite high profile announcements in December that drilling had been authorized, he added that the initial drilling near the town of In Salah had just been “experimental.”

He said the studies would continue for at least four more years to evaluate environmental and technical considerations.

Soon after the drilling began, rare protests erupted in nearby In Salah and spread to other southern cities in Algeria, principally over fears the scarce water supply would be contaminated.

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