BP AND Statoil are withdrawing staff from three gas plants in Algeria over the next few weeks following a terror attack by militants on the In Salah gas joint venture site on 18 March.
The joint venture partners, BP, Statoil and Algerian state-owned Sonatrach said that the In Salah gas plant had been struck three times using explosive rocket munitions. Statoil said that the attackers used mobile munitions from a single vehicle at a distance, and then left the scene. However, no damage or injuries have been reported. The In Salah gas plant was shut down after the attack.
As a precaution, BP and Statoil will now withdraw staff from their joint venture assets in In Salah and In Amenas, while Statoil will additionally remove staff from its Hassi Massaoud site.
Statoil mobilised its emergency response organisation immediately after the attack and BP mobilised its emergency response structure, however Statoil’s organisation has since stood down after the Algerian military secured control of the area.
“Statoil’s first priority is the safety and security of our people. We are monitoring the situation closely and will carry out further actions if necessary,” a Statoil spokesperson told The Chemical Engineer.
Sonatrach workers restored gas flow operations on 20 March, however Statoil said it would continue its precautionary measures at In Salah for the coming weeks. BP also said it would continue to take staff out of the areas over the next two weeks.
“BP has decided to undertake a temporary relocation of all its staff from the In Salah gas and In Amenas JVs in Algeria. This decision has been taken as a precautionary measure,” a BP spokesperson told The Chemical Engineer.
Algeria's energy infrastructure is heavily protected by the military, especially since the militant attack on the In Amenas gas plant in 2013, during which 37 oil workers were killed. Sonatrach was able to have the plan operational again one month later, however it took a full 18 months before both BP and Statoil returned staff to the site after a major security review.
Statoil, BP and Sonatrach were due to restart the final processing train at In Amenas, which was damaged during the 2013 attack, later this year. Statoil repeated on 21 March that the train restart would still happen “in the coming months”.
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