Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

Economists have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
0

Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

  • More than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas
  • Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth

ALGIERS: Two years after graduating from university, Ali Lamir, 26, has been spending his days sitting in a cafe in central Algiers thinking about how to land a job.
He is not alone — more than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas, despite numerous official promises of economic diversification.
Economists see little prospect of improvement despite a recovery in global oil prices. They have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives.
“My university degree is of no use. I have been looking for a job for two years but to no avail,” said Lamir, a graduate of the Algiers Institute of Law and Administrative Sciences.
Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth, deterred by security concerns and bureaucracy.
A scheme of interest-free loans, introduced two decades ago to encourage young Algerians to start their own businesses, has not fulfilled early hopes that it could boost the non-energy sector, which today accounts for only 6 percent of exports.
“I have applied for jobs at many firms, but get nothing other than promises. I am willing to accept any position even with a low salary,” said 24-year-old Aziza Bari, a graduate in economics from Algiers University.
Overall unemployment stood at 11.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018, official data shows, but was 26.4 percent among the under-30s, who make up more than two thirds of Algeria’s 41 million people.
Such figures do not make for happy reading for Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and is considering seeking a fifth term next year, despite poor health.
The recovery in global oil prices led to a 15 percent increase in Algeria’s oil and gas revenues in the first seven months of 2018 to $22 billion. Energy exports account for 95 percent of its foreign earnings.
Algeria has also gradually opened up industries such as food, home appliances and mobile phones to private investors, helping the non-energy sector to grow by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the most recent available data.
But business leaders have demanded bolder steps. “Our country is in need of accelerating the transition movement to an economy of knowledge and innovation,” Aliu Haddad, head of the country’s largest business association Algerian Business Leaders Forum, told a conference.


World oil demand, refining growth to peak in 2035 — Unipec

Updated 16 min 46 sec ago
0

World oil demand, refining growth to peak in 2035 — Unipec

  • Improved energy efficiency and technological changes, including the rise of renewables, meant global oil demand growth would slow in coming years before peaking in 2035
  • The switch to cleaner fuels will boost global demand for liquefied natural gas

SINGAPORE: World oil demand will peak at 104.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in the mid-2030s, up from just below 100 million bpd currently, as new technologies gradually eat into oil use, China’s Unipec said on Monday.
Improved energy efficiency and technological changes, including the rise of renewables, meant global oil demand growth would slow in coming years before peaking in 2035, Unipec President Chen Bo told the annual Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC).
This in turn will slow growth in global oil refining capacity, which is set to hit 5.6 billion tons per year in 2035, he said.
“We believe 2018-2035 will be the last cycle of global refining capacity expansion. After 2035, it is difficult to see large-scale refining projects in construction, except for some small upgrade projects and petrochemical projects,” said Chen.
Unipec is the trading arm of Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec.
The switch to cleaner fuels will also boost global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG), particularly in the Asia Pacific, after 2025, he added.
An escalating trade war between China, the largest energy importer, and the United States has dampened the Asian nation’s demand for US crude oil and LNG.
The United States exported 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to China in the first half of 2018, and 56 cargoes of LNG through July, or roughly 10 percent of its total LNG exports, according to official data.
Despite the trade dispute, Chen said US crude supply was an important new source for Chinese refiners as it allowed diversification from Middle East and African crudes.
Trade war tensions between the two countries would last “for the time being, and in the future we’ll be active in this area,” he added.
Beijing has excluded US crude imports from its tariffs list so far, but most Chinese buyers are staying away from US oil as the trade war shows no signs of cooling.
Unipec resumed loading US crude in September after a two-month hiatus.
China is also under pressure from the US to reduce its Iranian oil imports as Washington aims to cut exports from OPEC’s third-largest exporter to zero to force Tehran to negotiate a nuclear treaty.
Buyers in Europe, Japan, South Korea and India have either stopped or are reducing Iranian oil imports sharply ahead of the introduction of sanctions in November.
“I expect we’ll cut a little but the volume has not been finalized,” Chen said, without giving a timeframe for the cuts.
He added that Unipec has resumed normal loadings of Saudi oil after it cut imports in May-July.
Given the current supply and demand dynamic in global markets, Chen said, crude oil prices between at $60 and $80 per barrel were normal.