Energy Companies Pull a Blackwater

By Oilprice.com  JUN 26, 2013 2:05 PM

After a terrorist attack on a natural gas facility in Algeria, energy companies like Statoil, BP, and Total are focusing on security.

 


Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA (NYSE:STO) said last week it was forming a special operations division to handle emergency operations in response to a terrorist attack on a natural gas facility in Algeria. The company said it would double the amount of employees it had designated for existing security operations after reviewing the measures in place at the In Amenas gas facility. A January attack there left employees with Statoil and BP plc (NYSE:BP) dead in what al-Qaida said was a response to French intervention in Mali. With the economy just as much a viable target as any, counter-terrorism may becoming more than just the military's game.

A January attack by a division of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb left several energy company employees and foreign fighters dead. The Algerian attack had the logistical support of Islamic fighters who traveled across the western border from Libya, still unsettled nearly two years after the revolution.

Statoil said last week it was forming a special unit in response to the attack as part of a comprehensive response to the tragedy. Operations at In Amenas resumed at a limited capacity after the attack for owners Statoil, BP, and Algeria's state energy company Sonatrach. French supermajor Total SA (NYSE:TOT)  said it too was spending more on industry-wide security operations since the January attack. Natural gas production has declined more or less since 2005 for Algeria and lingering instability in the region suggests a turnaround isn't likely in the medium term.

BP said it had its own concerns, noting it was holding back on natural gas projects in the country because of the security situation there.
Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi told a Houston energy conference in March the country "remains a stable country" despite the terrorist attack. He said the country wasn't discouraged by the incident and remained committed to developing its natural gas sector. Algeria has enacted policies that would give foreign investors an incentive to take a closer look at unexplored fields in the country. Algeria in 2011 produced around 2.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and has since worked to return to its previous glory.

Statoil said it would appoint an official to lead security operations by July. The security team is part of what Statoil said was a "broader response" to the tragedy in Algeria. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday the attack in Algeria shows that al-Qaida may be weakened, but it's not yet out of the picture. He complained some members of the international community aren't willing to take on the responsibility to tackle the threat themselves, however. With the international economy depending on a reliable source of energy to keep churning, Statoil's actions suggest the energy sector may start to take on some of that burden itself.

(Source)

This article was written by Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.