Algeria says no start-up date for attacked gas plant

ALGIERS Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:21am EST

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ALGIERS Jan 29 (Reuters) - Algeria has yet to set a date to restart its In Amenas gas plant, where damage is being assessed and repairs made after a siege by Islamist militants, its energy and mines minister said on Tuesday.

The minister, Youcef Yousfi, said the government would step up security at oil and gas facilities following the attack this month on the plant that produces 9 billion cubic metres of gas per year, equal to around 11 percent of Algeria's annual gas output.

"We are still in the process of assessing damage and repairing equipment," the minister told reporters in parliament when asked whether a decision had been made about the start-up.

The In Amenas site is jointly owned by BP, Statoil and Algeria's state energy firm Sonatrach.

Up to 37 foreigners died after troops stormed the complex to end the hostage crisis, which also saw the killing of 29 hostage-takers.

On Monday, suspected Islamist militants attacked an oil pipeline in northern Algeria, killing two guards and wounding seven other people, a security source told Reuters.

Yousfi said Algeria would boost security at oil and gas facilities to cope with any new potential attacks.

"We will explore ways to strengthen the security of our installations," he said.

Neighbouring Libya and Tunisia have already taken steps to protect their energy facilities after the In Amenas attack.

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