Algeria's shale gas opponents vow further protests as oil company says excavations not to halt

Protesters opposing plans to exploit Algeria's massive shale gas reserves says they will expand their activities to drilling sites, while state oil company Sonatrach is vowing to continue its efforts.

There have been protests against drilling for shale gas in the southern desert town of In Salah since early January and spokesman Mohammed Azzaoui said Monday there are plans to protest at Ahnet, the site of the drilling, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the town.

On Sunday, Sonatrach head Said Sahnoun insisted the drilling, which began in December, will not be halted despite the protests, and said there are plans to exploit new sites.

Algeria, which depends on hydrocarbon exports for 60 percent of its budget, has been hard hit by dwindling reserves and the falling price of oil.