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BP, Statoil Withdraw Staff From Algeria After Al Qaeda Attack

BP and Statoil have announced that they will temporarily withdraw some of their staff from two natural gas treatment plants in Algeria after the facilities suffered from rocket attacks on March 18.

Al Qaeda’s North African branch fired rocket propelled grenades at the Salah gas facility in Algeria on Friday, although the attacks did not succeed in inflicting any significant damage. "In the early morning, three or four rocket propelled grenades hit a central processing facility, there were no casualties or damage reported," an industry source told Reuters. Related: The Unexpected Threat To Our Economic Growth System

BP shut down the facility and said that it would withdraw personnel. "BP has decided to undertake a phased temporary relocation of all its staff from the In Salah Gas and In Amenas JVs in Algeria over the next two weeks. This decision has been taken as a precautionary measure," BP said in a statement.

"It's only been four days since shots were fired at In Salah. The production started again, but in the current situation we believe that this is the right decision to make," a spokesman for Statoil said. Related: An Output Freeze Is Still The Big Red-Herring For Oil

A 2013 attack on the In Amenas facility resulted in the death of 40 oil workers were killed. Since then, Algeria’s energy infrastructure has received greater protection from the country’s military. BP and Statoil work with Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach at the gas facilities, which produce a substantial portion of the country’s natural gas production.

Algeria has suffered from attacks from militant groups such as Al Qaeda, although not nearly to the same degree as what is currently underway in Libya, where the Islamic State has seized territory and stepped up assaults on Libya’s oil export terminals and storage facilities.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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