Statoil over-reliant on Algeria military: report

State-backed Norwegian oil giant Statoil said on Thursday that security at the site of a deadly kidnapping in the Algerian desert earlier this year had relied too heavily on army protection.

Statoil over-reliant on Algeria military: report
Soldiers at the In Amenas gas facility after the tragedy - Tore Meek / NTB scanpix
"Neither Statoil nor the joint venture could have prevented the attack, but there is reason to question the extent of their reliance on Algerian military protection," concluded experts who investigated the tragedy at the In Amenas natural gas facility at the request of Statoil.
Islamist militants attacked the site, located in a military zone close to a gendarmerie camp and the Libyan border, on January 16 taking its employees hostage for several days.
An Algerian army raid to free the hostages left up to 40 of them dead, including five Norwegians. Twenty-nine militants were killed and three others captured alive.
"Security measures at the site were not constructed to withstand or delay an attack of this scale, and relied on military protection working effectively," the experts said in a 78-page report.
But chief investigator Torgeir Hagen added that "no military or other force can guarantee total protection against determined terrorists in an area the size of Luxembourg close to the porous border between Algeria and Libya".
After the attack Statoil, which manages the site in a joint venture with Algeria's state-run energy giant Sonatrach and Britain's BP, pulled out all its expatriate staff and no decision has been made about their return.
BP's personnel is expected to return to Algeria soon, Britain's ambassador Martyn Roper said in Algiers on Sunday.
In March, Algeria ordered state security agents to protect facilities run by foreign companies in spite of their misgivings.

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‘Call me Equinor’: Statoil changes name

Norway's largest oil company Statoil officially changed its name to Equinor on Wednesday as it forges ahead with its drive into renewable energy.

'Call me Equinor': Statoil changes name
CEO Eldar Sætre presents the name change in Stavanger. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB Scanpix

Proposed in March and adopted on Tuesday at the shareholders' general meeting, the name change allows the company to take a step back — at least in name — from the Norwegian state, which owns 67 percent of its shares, and from oil. 

Equinor is meant to combine the idea of equity and equilibrium (“equi”) and geographical origin (“nor”) for Norway.

Founded in 1972 to operate Norway's large oil fields, the company — which is listed on both the Oslo and New York stock exchanges — is now active in renewable energies, including wind farms off the UK coast.

The group has earmarked 15-20 percent of its investments to “new energy solutions” by 2030.

But this shift has been cold shouldered by environmentalists concerned about global warming as they accuse the company of “green washing”.

“Statoil name change to attract young talent will not be sufficient as long as Equinor is exploring in vulnerable areas, such as the Arctic or the Great Australian Bight,” tweeted Truls Gulowsen, leader for Greenpeace in Norway.

READ ALSO: Norway pledges to spend less oil money in new budget