04 May 2004 21:46 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--Few oil and chemical firms that employ Americans in Saudi Arabia are sending staff home despite a recent shooting that left five Western contractors dead at the Yanbu petrochemical complex, a US State Department official told CNI Tuesday.
The US State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), which documents security measures taken by US firms overseas, said there are no early indications that US companies in general are ordering their non-native staffs to leave Saudi Arabia.
Two Americans, two Britons and Australian died in a shooting at a petrochemical plant in the Saudi city of Yanbu on Saturday. A Canadian was also wounded in the shooting. The victims worked for ABB Lummus, the Houston, Texas-based US subsidiary of Swiss-based contractor ABB. ABB Lummus announced it is evacuating some staff.
Richard Ingram, deputy executive director of OSAC, said: "We haven’t seen anything change remarkably as a result [of Saturday's attack]. Companies are already on a heightened state of alert, and most have already implemented their emergency planning."
Ingram said private American firms stepped up efforts to secure their facilities and employees after eight Americans were killed in co-ordinated suicide bombings in Riyadh in May 2003.
Despite early indications that US oil-related operations in Saudi Arabia will continue relatively unabated, Ingram said it is still too early to tell whether recent events and warnings will spark further departures.
An estimated 35 000 Americans work in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer.
A US State Department official noted yesterday that the US cannot force private-sector Americans to leave Saudi Arabia.
But after Saturday's shooting, the US embassy in Saudi Arabia repeated a warning first posted by the State Department on 15 April. That warning "strongly urged" private US citizens to leave Saudi Arabia and advised US citizens to cancel travel plans to the country. The US embassy has also evacuated non-essential employees.
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