Spain's Cepsa evacuates staff in Algeria after attacks

MADRID Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:53am EST

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MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish oil company Cepsa has begun to evacuate personnel in Algeria following an attack by Islamist militants on a gas facility in the country where foreigners were taken hostage, a spokesman for Cepsa said on Thursday.

An Algerian gas facility operated by British Petroleum, Norway's Statoil and Algeria's state company was attacked by Islamist militants on Wednesday. The militants said they had kidnapped up to 41 foreigners in the raid in retaliation for France's intervention in Mali.

Cepsa, which is owned by International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), said half of its production comes from Algeria, which is also Spain's main supplier of gas.

Spanish oil major Repsol, with about 3 percent of total production from Algeria, said it was monitoring the situation but had not yet taken any steps on evacuation.

Repsol does have significant exposure to neighboring Libya, which analysts said was the main risk for the Spanish company if the crisis extended across the Algerian border.

Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa, which has contracts with Algeria's Sonatrach, said it does not have any plants in the country.

(Reporting By Jesús Aguado, Robert Hetz and Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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