BP may rethink North African expansion after Algerian hostage crisis
LONDON -- BP may be forced to reconsider further gas exploration in North Africa as a result of the hostage crisis at the Algerian natural gas facility that it jointly operates, the Independent reports, citing unnamed industry sources.
While it is unlikely that BP will scale back operations in Algeria, further expansion across the region will need careful consideration, owing to the threat from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an industry source told the newspaper.
"The Algerians are very security conscious, and they have to be. They have a massive problem, as does Libya, as does Morocco. This is a serious issue. Algeria will not take any messing around with security, because gas exports are essential to them," the sources said.
"But BP will want to look at this again, as security is the key aspect. If there was reason why they wouldn't want to invest, it would be because of security," they added.
In a conference call with the press, BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said the company had already withdrawn 25 of the 56 BP expatriate employees that were working in locations throughout the country as "a precautionary measure," but said BP remained committed to Algeria and its "high-quality assets" and intended to return to normal operations there as soon as the circumstances safely allow.
A spokesperson for BP declined to comment on the firm's future expansion plans, but reiterated Mr. Dudley's statement regarding the firm's intention to return to normal operations in Algeria as soon as circumstances allow.