The choice of target in the recent bloody hostage standoff in Algeria was not by chance. By attacking the gas sector, jihadist terrorists went for maximum impact. Energy accounts for 98 per cent of Algeria’s exports and 70 per cent of tax revenue, with the In Amenas plant accounting for 12 per cent of the country’s gas output.
It is unlikely to prompt any large-scale pull-out by foreign companies, but the events cap a longer term deterioration in the operating environment of Africa’s biggest natural gas producer, where new investment has all but dried up, with steadily decreasing numbers of successful oil round awards.
By Philippe de Pontet and Riccardo Fabiani of Eurasia Group
The investor and geopolitical impacts of the French-led intervention against Islamist militants in Mali will reverberate far beyond the country’s porous borders. Indeed they already have, as the grisly kidnapping of dozens of expatriates in BP’s southern Algerian gas field has shown.
Mali will continue to be the epicenter of combat, casualties, and French preoccupation, but the real risks to multinationals and foreign citizens will play out elsewhere in a vast region that spans North Africa, West Africa and the largely ungoverned Sahel which lies at crossroads of the two.