11 February 2014, News Wires – BP said on Tuesday it had returned some staff to Algeria but more security arrangements would need to be completed before it sends expatriates back to In Amenas, the southern gas plant attacked by Islamic militants last year.
“We do have some people back at In Salah but not at In Amenas. We are still trying to finalise the security arrangements that will be in place … but it’s all moving in the right direction,” said BP spokesman Robert Wine.
Forty workers, most of them foreign, died at In Amenas in January 2013 after militants took staff hostage during a four-day siege that ended when Algerian forces stormed the site.
BP, which operates In Amenas with Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach, said it had begun returning expatriate staff to the capital in late 2013, before sending some back to the oil and gas centre of Hassi Messaoud.
A small number of staff had returned to another gas facility at In Salah in recent weeks, Wine said.
“At In Salah, we normally only have a handful of expatriates – about 15 or 20. We only have twos or threes there at the moment,” Wine said, adding that BP would build up its presence as the security arrangements are finalised.
Statoil said last week it had also returned staff to In Salah and Hassi Messaoud but not to the scene of the attack. In Amenas produced about 11.5 percent of Algeria’s natural gas output before the attack and full resumption would free up more of the fuel for export to Europe.
An Algerian energy official said in late January that In Amenas would be operating at full capacity within weeks as work on the last of three units nears completion.