Amenas, Algeria - Blast charred walls have been repainted and bullet holes plastered over at the Tiguentourine gas plant near In Amenas, as Algeria tries to tempt foreign oil workers back to the Sahara.
But the black commemorative plaque listing 40 victims of Islamist militants there keeps the memory alive of the January attack that shook investors’ faith in Algeria’s oil and gas sector.
Officials at the gas plant point to tighter security, a new helicopter landing pad to allow safer transport and a permanent military presence.
“Helicopters patrol the area, and military are everywhere all around the site, even if they are not visible to you,” an official said.
But Algeria has joined neighbouring Libya and Egypt, both caught up in political upheaval, as a tough sell to foreign energy firms.
The region’s cost to reward ratio is less appealing than elsewhere and Islamist militants threaten more attacks across north Africa.
The Maghreb has been shaken by instability since the 2011 Arab Spring revolts. Islamist militants tied to al-Qaeda have gained ground, especially in the chaos of post-revolution Libya.
The In Amenas attack was a surprise for Algeria, a top gas supplier to Europe, an oil-producing Opec member and a US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. Its security forces have years of experience battling Islamist militants.
A senior Algerian official said the new security plan at In Amenas had been discussed with executives from BP and Statoil, the country’s partners in the plant, who said they needed guarantees and a reinforced security presence before workers returned.
The Norwegian company released a report last month saying it had missed a string of warning signs prior to the attack. The British oil major has said it was impossible to predict the attack.
Last month the UK ambassador to Algiers said BP workers could return soon, without giving details. – Reuters