Statoil, BP bringing home non-critical personnel from Algeria

18 January 2013 00:03  [Source: ICIS news]

Statoil, BP bringing home non-critical personnel from AlgeriaHOUSTON (ICIS)--Statoil announced on Thursday that it and BP are bringing home non-critical personnel from two other Algerian plants in response to the hostage situation at the In Amenas gas field.

Statoil also announced that it and BP were bringing home their non-critical personnel from the In Salah and Hassi Mouina plants in Algeria. At least three planes likely will be utilised for this purpose, Statoil said, adding that about 40 of its employees will be onboard the first three planes.
The planes, scheduled to travel to London and then to Bergen, Norway, were to depart from In Salah on Thursday evening.

Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that an Algerian security source claimed that 30 hostages and at least 11 Islamist militants had been killed when Algerian forces stormed the In Amenas plant after talks with the hostage takers failed. Confirmed details on the situation were difficult to come by for news agencies and Western governments.

Two Japanese, two Britons and a French national were among at least seven foreigners killed, the source told Reuters. Eight of the dead hostages were Algerian, but the nationalities of the rest, as well as of perhaps dozens more who escaped, were unclear, Reuters reported.

A total of 41 foreigners, including Americans, British, French and Japanese citizens, had been held captive, news agency CNN said, citing reports from the Mauritanian News Agency and Sahara Media that quoted an Islamist group claiming responsibility for the attack, which occurred on Wednesday.

The gas field, which is about 800 miles (1,300km) from Algiers and about 40 miles west of the Libyan border, is operated by a joint venture between Algeria’s national oil firm Sonatrach, UK’s BP and Norway’s Statoil.

In a Thursday afternoon press release, Statoil said that eight of its 17 employees at the gas field had been confirmed to be safe. Three of them are Algerian, while the other five – all Norwegians – were on their home.

Statoil CEO Helge Lund said the company could not confirm the status of its remaining nine Norwegian employees who are involved in the hostage situation.

“The whole of Statoil is strongly affected by the situation in In Amenas,” Lund said. “The situation is still unresolved, uncertain and very serious. In an unresolved situation, it is important for us to be hands-on with those who are most affected.”

In a statement from BP on Thursday, CEO Bob Dudley said the company was working to ensure the safety of its staff and to support their families.

BP has confirmed the status of its staff who were at In Amenas, the statement said, but the company would not say how many of its employees were present at the time of Wednesday’s attack.

By: Jeremy Pafford
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