Algeria committed to mining resources, despite attack

Algeria remains committed to mining its natural gas resources and won’t be deterred by the terrorist attack in January at a plant there in which more than three-dozen people were killed, the country’s minister of energy and mines said Tuesday.

H.E. Youcef Yousfi said at an energy industry discussion during IHS CERAWeek at a downtown Houston hotel that security has been heightened at the Ain Amenas facility that is jointly run by British oil giant BP, Algeria’s Sonatrach and Norway’s Statoil.

The natural gas field resumed production late last month. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal started up one of three gas streams at the Ain Amenas site, bringing it up to about 35 percent capacity,

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“Despite this terrible event, Algeria remains a stable country,” Yousfi said.

He said that given the country’s strategic geographical location and  its hydrocarbon potential, “Algeria intends to remain and increase in the future its role” in the world’s energy conversation.

“We are in the process of evaluating the unconventional hydrocarbons, shale gas, tight gas, shale oil and tight oil,” Yousfi said.

He said that out of the attack a “very strong committment emerged from the authorities in order to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.”

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“Their objective was to kidnap or to kill as many people as they could, particularly foreigners, and to blow up the gas plant,” he said of the terrorists.

Yousfi credited the Algerian military for preventing more deaths. Military action, he said, “helped to save the maximum number of individuals and safeguard the complex.”

“I take this opportunity to present our deep condolences to the families of the people lost,” Yousfi said.

On Jan. 16, al-Qaida affiliated militants attacked the Ain Amenas complex and took dozens of foreign workers hostage. After a four-day standoff, the Algerian army moved in and killed 29 attackers and captured three others. At least 37 hostages, including one Algerian worker, died in the battle.

The U.S. government has said three Americans, including two from the Houston area, were killed and seven others survived the attack.