On 16th of January, a group of militants from Mali attacked and occupied a natural gas complex partly operated by Norwegian energy giant Statoil in southern Algeria. The attack came just in the aftermath of France’s military involvement in Mali. Five Norwegians in addition to 34 foreign hostages were killed in the three-day attack in Amenas, Algeria.
After the tragedy, Statoil drew out all personnel from operational plants in Algeria, Amenas, In Salah and Hassi Messaoud. Now after one year, the employees returned to work in the normal rotation at the plant in Hassi Messaoud. The company is also close to open the plant in In Saleh, but a start in Amenas is further ahead.
Spokesman for Statoil’s operations abroad, Knut Rostad said to Aftenposten that they work closely with the other companies operating in Algeria, including Algerian Sonatrach and British BP, to enhance the safety of the production facilities.
– It involves both improving physical security at the facilities and to strengthen the dialogue between the partners and the government. We have also gone through all the relevant recommendations of the investigation report, which came in September, says Rostad.
Statoil operates in more troubled countries and Rostad is clear that the terrorist attack last year has changed the way Statoil think safety.
– We perform risk analysis of countries and regions all the time. We can not let terrorists dictate, but we can relate our plans to a changing world and introduce safety measures to reduce the risk of attack, he said.
Talking to aftenpsoten, NUPI researcher Morten Bøås said Norwegian authorities must decide whether oil and gas will continue to be as important to Norwegian economy.
– There is not much oil left in the North Sea. If the oil is still going to smear the Norwegian welfare state, we need to find out more. Much of the world’s oil reserves are located in politically unstable areas, and one must accept a degree of risk, says Bøås.