OSLO, July 24 Norway's Statoil has sent
up to 10 workers to Algeria's In Amenas gas plant to review new
security measures after a militant attack last year, and could
decide within weeks whether to permanently return staff to the
site, the firm said on Thursday.
Statoil has kept permanent workers away from the plant since
Islamist militants, operating from Libya, raided the site deep
in the Sahara desert in January 2013, taking foreign workers
hostage in a four-day siege that ended when Algerian forces
stormed the facility.
Forty staff, including 39 foreigners, died.
"In June we returned five to 10 people on a temporary
rotation," Statoil spokesman Knut Rostad said, confirming a
report in daily Dagens Naeringsliv. "Their task is to ensure
that the new security measures are implemented."
Rostad said the firm could make a decision in "some weeks"
on the quality of the new safety and security systems and
whether it would return permanent gas workers.
Statoil and BP operate the facility jointly with
In Amenas produced about 11.5 percent of Algeria's natural
gas output before the attack and the North African state has
been steadily bringing the plant back to full operation, which
frees up more of the fuel for export to Europe.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by David Holmes)