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Norway's Statoil staff return to Algeria


Statoil has started returning its staff to Algeria, in the wake of the January 16 attack on the In Amenas gas facilities which killed 40 workers including five from the Norwegian group, a spokesman told Platts Monday.

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Statoil staff have returned to an operational base at Hassi Messaoud which is several hundred kilometers from In Amenas, Jannik Lindbaek said.

"We now have 40 people at the base in Hassi Messaoud on a permanent basis. Returning people to the production facilities In Amenas and In Salah will come at a later stage...We are committed to returning to Algeria."

There had been talk Statoil might sell its Algerian operations.

In September, Statoil published the results of an investigation into the attack, saying: "Neither Statoil nor the joint venture could have prevented the attack, but there is reason to question the extent of their reliance on Algerian military protection. Neither of them conceived of a scenario where a large force of armed attackers reached the facility."

Statoil said previously the In Amenas facilities initiated a limited production start-up on February 22. It said with the release of quarterly results this year that continued reduced capacity at In Amenas had affected overall group production.

Statoil has said In Salah was still in operation after the attack, at the rate of around 40,000 b/d. In Salah is also jointly operated by Statoil, BP and Sonatrach and has annual capacity of 9 Bcm.

The In Amenas wet gas field and plant produces around 9 Bcm/year.

Hassi Messaoud is the operational headquarters of the joint venture.

--Patrick McLoughlin,
--Edited by Dan Lalor,