Statoil gas facility in Algeria hit by explosive

Company's In Amenas gas facility in Algeria attacked by al-Qaida sympathizers in 2013.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  March 18, 2016 at 7:29 AM
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STAVANGER, Norway, March 18 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil said it was dispatching an emergency response team to Algeria following an explosion at one of its gas assets in the country.

The company said its In Salah gas facility was "hit by explosive munitions fired from a distance" early Friday morning local time. Its three employees in the area are safe and uninjured, the company said.

The company said it was still working on gathering details of the incident and has mobilized its emergency response team from its headquarters in Stavanger, Norway, to coordinate with its joint venture partners on the ground.

Terrorists sympathetic with al-Qaida, stormed the country's In Amenas natural gas facility in January 2013, leaving 38 civilians and 29 militants dead. Norwegian energy company Statoil and its partners suspended work at the facility along the Libyan border for more than a year following the attack.

In Amenas has a production capacity of approximately 315 million cubic feet of natural gas per year. In Salah is the third largest natural gas field in the country, with production capacity relatively on par with In Amenas. Statoil operates the field in a partnership with BP and state-owned energy company Sonatrach.

There were no statements on the most recent attacks from Statoil's operating partners or from Algerian state media. The National Defense Ministry said terrorists near In Amenas were captured in a weekend operation.

A profile of Algeria from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds gas production is expected to rise. The In Amenas attack, however, highlights the risk of operating in the country. With its economy heavily dependent on the energy sector, EIA said any major disruption to production would be detrimental.

"Because Algeria is the second-largest natural gas supplier to Europe outside of the region, unplanned cuts to natural gas output could affect some European countries," the report read.

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