Statoil Returns Expats to Algeria Fields After Attacks

Statoil ASA will begin sending foreign workers back to natural gas fields in Algeria, a year after a terrorist attack at a project in the North African country led Norway’s state oil company to withdraw its staff.

Foreigners will “soon” return to work at the In Salah gas project, Lars Bacher, Statoil’s executive vice president for international development and production, said in an interview yesterday in Abu Dhabi. A terrorist attack at the In Amenas complex on Jan. 16, 2013, killed 40 people, including five Statoil employees, according to the company’s website.

“It will take a bit longer at In Amenas to get expats back in,” Bacher said. He hopes foreign employees can return to the complex in the Sahara Desert this year, though that will depend on security improvements, he said.

Statoil operates at both In Amenas and In Salah in ventures with BP Plc and Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach energy group. Algeria is Africa’s largest gas producer and is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Statoil will send staff to Krechba and Hassi Moumene, two areas at In Salah, spokesman Knut Rostad said by e-mail. At In Amenas, two production facilities are operating and a third unit is awaiting new equipment to replace parts damaged in last year’s attack, Bacher said.

Statoil also removed permanent foreign staff from fields in neighboring Libya and is evaluating whether it needs full-time expatriate workers in that country, he said. Libya’s Mabruk and Murzuq fields are operating, and the company is getting about 10,000 barrels a day of crude from the two fields, Bacher said.

The company’s average production was 12,300 barrels a day from the fields in 2012 and output was “unstable” in 2013 due to unrest in the country, Rostad said. Statoil will present updated production figures in London on February 7.

(Company corrects Libya 2012 output in final paragraph of story first published on Jan. 22.)
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