An anti-shale protest in the Algerian Sahara  © Getty Images

The 50 per cent fall in oil prices over the last year is beginning to have a serious impact across the world. Rig rates are down in the US and production of tight oil produced through fracking is beginning to fall. Corporate profits and share prices are down. The private sector generally, however, is remarkably resilient. Costs can be cut, new projects postponed and if things get worse dividends can be reduced. By contrast many of the countries that have come to depend on high prices have little room for adjustment. A few, like Saudi Arabia, still hold vast cash reserves and can tolerate the loss of revenue for several years. Others are trapped and particularly vulnerable because the lack of income compounds all the other problems they face. One of the most vulnerable is Algeria. Read more

Three weeks after the tragic events at the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, the companies directly involved and many others with interests in North Africa and across the Middle East are beginning to assess the implications and the choices they face.

Algeria, and indeed the whole of the North African region apart from a few parts of Libya, had been considered relatively safe. Installations including In Amenas were protected by national security forces but were not armed camps. Algeria was considered to be predominantly law abiding – with fewer attempted kidnappings than many other countries around the world. The companies believed they had good relationships with the government in Algiers. Read more