Guest Post: Energy Industry Doesn't Understand Algeria Attack

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Jen Alic of,

The attack on BP-operated Amenas gas facilities in the Algerian Sahara was a spectacular lesson for the energy industry: No amount of high-tech security is invulnerable to Sahelian militants.

Billions will now be spent on securing Western energy interests across the region and investment will take a hit at a time when the big news was that the industry’s junior players - particularly American and Canadian - were growing ever so bold and willing to take risks in unstable regions. Their markets may not be able to sustain this bravery much longer.

An exodus - or relocation - of Western energy industry workers got underway immediately, not only in Algeria.

Not only will security costs rise; so will insurance premiums along with the cost of relocating personnel.  Projects will be delayed, and production will take a small hit, but this will be only temporary.

While this incident will boost business in a big way for providers of physical and technical security, this will be money misplaced, and misspent. Amenas’ security was said to be stronger than an army barracks. What foreign oil and gas companies really need is the kind of strategic security analysis that is hard to come by, and that US agencies, for instance, don’t have themselves.

The biggest mistake the industry makes is to ignore regional and geopolitical dynamics. It’s complicated, and the corporate world doesn’t have the patience for it. But what has happened in the Sahel since the Western intervention in Libya is the stuff of geopolitical analysis, and while it would have been difficult to predict the attack on Amenas because it was less about events in Mali than it was about an internecine struggle for the leadership throne of Sahelian jihad, it was easy to predict an urgent security situation from Libya across the Sahel and all the way to Syria.

But while the security focus is most extensively right now on Algeria, the choice of the Algerian gas field as a target had nothing to do with Algeria or its energy industry.  Algeria is much more secure, and its security forces much more capable, than its Sahelian neighbors.

Key to assessing the real security risk to Western energy firms is understanding why the BP field was chosen as a target. The short answer is this: There are two key figures running Islamic jihad operations in the Sahel and they are vying for power after a leadership dispute. The group that launched the attack on Amenas chose Algeria because of geography (Amenas is in the desert and easily accessible from the Libyan border, 100 kilometers away) and because this is the rival jihadist leaders’ stomping ground. While the attack fit the overall Islamist agenda of sending France a message about its intervention in Mali, the intent was to send a bigger message to the group’s rival jihadist leadership.

It was an amazingly spectacular attack that netted some 700 hostages. None of the hostages were executed, and the 30 or so who died were killed in the Algerian Special Forces rescue operation. The attackers also made no attempt to destroy or sabotage the gas facilities. This was an extremely high-profile publicity stunt that serves as the calling card of a specific individual, Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The message was that under his leadership, the jihadists have massive capabilities. Belmokhtar’s leadership rival, Abdelmalek Droukdel, will have to respond to this challenge with an equally spectacular attack. It is not likely to be Algeria.

The energy industry’s biggest security concerns right now should be Niger, the home of France’s massive Areva uranium interests, and Libya, already destabilized. In both places, security is easily infiltrated. In Libya, security is provided by roving militias whose loyalty is at best questionable. Those loyalties could easily shift as militants move across the border from Mali into Libya. In Niger, the weak structure of government and the rampant corruption of security forces means that security is extremely vulnerable.

The markets - like the industry - do not respond to complicated geopolitics. They respond to specific incidents and there will be another one. That is to say, the markets will not take the Algerian incident as seriously as it should.

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SafelyGraze's picture

Piers is ON IT!

and not to forget the children

trav777's picture

here's to hoping that insufferable cunt dies

clara-to-market's picture

I understand what happened in Algeria.

Muslims are crazy.

And we need to leave them the fuck alone.

Plain and simple.

Fuck Ben Bernanke.

All Risk No Reward's picture

clara, you do understand that the international banking cartel is using their drug and tax money of the chumptocracies they've hijacked to fund those radical Muslims, right?

If not, you really don't know what happened in Algeria or anywhere else over in the ME.

A Lunatic's picture

Ignoring regional and geopolitical dynamics is all the rage now, don'tcha know..............

Xibalba's picture

I'm sure the US Taxpayers won't mid if we lillypad a few boys (and girls) to secure 'American Interests'....but not for the ambassadors.  

Lore's picture



Blame Al Qaeda -- whoever they are -- because they have weapons of mass destruction...

And where Al Qaeda goes, soon the drones will go, and freedom bells will ring -- for friends of Halliburton...

There's a song about this -- something about how rainbows end at a pot of gold...?

Anusocracy's picture

The barbarians are at the gates again, and the barbarians inside the gates are afraid again.


ebworthen's picture


Why should BP pay for real security when people are disposable? soon as Western energy is at risk...governments will send in their military and charge taxpayers for post-incident security and clean up to the benefit of BP - until BP or company X can find more bodies to move in to turn the knobs and valves.

IridiumRebel's picture

Africa! It's the new Middle East! Get in while you can!

centerline's picture

He who controls the spice....

espirit's picture

Islamic jihadists upsetting French occupation?

Uncle Sam to the rescue.  This is getting to be a worn out

kapitalist meme. 

Eally Ucked's picture

Just wait for the moment they won't even think about future income and blow up all those pipelines feeding western world. They dont have that much to loose. What the fuck we're talking about? 

Jack Burton's picture

The French invaded Mali to secure their uranium mining interests. 1,200 troops is not going to cut it. The French and US take down of Libya destroyed a strong anti Islamic extremist government. The destruction of Iraq destroyed one of the most anti Islamic extremist governments around. The USA and NATO are funding and arming Al-Qaeda in Syria in their battle to destroy a secular state that has filled it's jails with Muslim extremists.

I simply present these three cases as evidence that the USA/NATO axis is in some bizzare way one of the major supporters of Jihadist extremists in the Muslim world. What do they think they are playing at really?

Pure Evil's picture

What they've always been aiming at since Roman times. You allow the provincials to fight among themselves and kill each other off. You back one side then the other stoking up hatred. Every once in a while you interject yourself to let them know who the 800 lb gorilla is on the block. You build bases of support and when one side gets too uppity or to organized you join the opposite side in demolishing their forces. You maintain control from a distance by keeping the locals fighting each other.

They do that in America by maintaining two political parties and have the two sides at each others throats over divisive issues such as abortion, gay marriage, gun control, deficits, spending, etc....

Pure Evil's picture

In the past Americans were bound by a common language and a firm belief in the rights delinated in the Constitution.

Since 1965 the government has allowed groups of immigrants to settle in the US without requiring that they learn the English language or assimilate into the American culture. We now have a second language, Spanish, while other immigrant communities are allowed to maintain their own unique culture and languages. There are immigrant communities where no English is spoken or visible in commercial businesses.

The public school system has been so dumbed down that the history of the founding fathers is no longer taught and graduates, if they can be called that, are graduating with no knowledge of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, of the Declaration of Independence. Immigrants that come to this country have no interests in their 2nd Amendment rights and are more concerned with having the government provide them with benefits.

More and more Americans are becomeing wards of the state and have been more than willing to give up their Constitutional rights in order to receive entitlements from the Federal government. I talk to people who have no problem with the government reading your emails, listening in on your cell conversations, tracking you on the internet such as Facebook or through your cell phone with GPS, or invading your privacy through various methods created by an out of control spy system. They say they aren't doing anything wrong so what do they have to worry about.

As a country and a people we are no longer bound together by a common language or a belief in the Constitution. The elites are in the process of destroying US sovereignty in order to unleash a new regional governmental entity called the North American Union consisting of Canada, Mexico and the US. They no longer need citizens with political rights to inhabit this new governing entity, but proles willing to do as the government tells them. Think communist China, a military police state. It's glorious to get rich, but forget about exercising any political rights, or your freedom of speech, or any of your rights delinated in the Constitution and bestowed by the creator.

economics9698's picture

Cut to the chase, the Yids want to kill millions of goyim.

joego1's picture

In short, there is no more America as we knew it. Its a brave new world. God help us.

trav777's picture

stop romanticizing Old America, you freakin racist.

All of these things you talk about are a result of increased diversity and cultural vibrancy, which are INARGUABLY good things!  Anyone who argues against their effects is a racist.  Anyone who pines for the Old America is a racist.  Old America was NOTHING except for racist.  Seriously.  It had NO OTHER defining attributes other than its racism.  Racism overshadows everything in existence.

And nearly all of you will toe the line whenever there is any kind of threat to you that you will be slapped with this label.  You will agree with what I have just said and nobody will really be able to mount any kind of serious argument against it.  I can slap the racist label faster than you could EVER marshal facts to rebut it.  Maybe you can stutter something about how Old America brought the world electric power, modern medicine, and computers but I can trump that ALL with "RACIST!" and you will simply STFU and get in line.

Nobody cares about your racist sovereignty or your racist guns or your racist "rights" which only historically applied to white men.  Rights now belong to culturally vibrant and diverse people and they do not want racist rights and racist sovereignty and racist guns; in fact, they REJECT all the aspects of Old America including the racist Bill of Rights written by racists.

What culturally vibrant people want is for this country to be like where they came from, as they inexorably do things to turn it into that.  Diverse people have suffered from historical racism so now they want to be compensated by people who are racist for the continuing "miasma" of racism which is why Detroit collapsed.  The nondiverse people left and TOOK all the jobs.  Yes, jobs aren't part of an economy, they are THINGS that can be set down or stockpiled on shelves, and the nondiverse people keep taking them away and burying them or something.  This is all the hallmark of instititutionalized racism.  ANY disparity in outcome or diverse person unhappiness is racism.

Random's picture

Hehehehe Trav, nice jab at MillionDollars' turf!

Jack Burton's picture

Pure Evil,

            Yes, you are correct. I asked the question to see if anyone really "got it", and you clearly are 100% correct!

I do believe that the American elite has adopted the Roman way. America is the new Rome. It is all too easy for the US to play off the "barbarians" in the same way Rome did.

WAMO556's picture

Just helping one of the seven stated goals of Al Qaeda.

1. Establishment of a world wide caliphate
2. The destruction of ALL western backed Muslim governments
3. To stop the theft of Muslim oil
4. The removal of ALL foreign troops from the lands of the two holy places
5. The destruction of Isreal and the re-establishment of Muslim control in Pslestine
6. Stop the oppression of Chinese uihgers (Muslims)
7. The removal and destruction of ALL foreign invaders in the land of the two rivers (Iraq)

You pick!

SelfGov's picture

#1 is fucked.

The rest don't sound that bad.

trav777's picture

"theft"??  WTF...I guess if you mean paying for it

lolmao500's picture

Well they've got to create enemies so they can continue this bogus ``war on terror`` forever... not to mention, all the unconstitutional laws based on that ``war``, the insane war budget and the ridiculous military contracts.

War is big business.

NoDebt's picture

Trying.... to..... care.....


I..... just...............can't.....

justsayin2u's picture

maybe bamy can get his rocks off killing a few more jihadists

SelfGov's picture

Think Obama got to fly a drone? Think he got to shoot one?

earleflorida's picture

'a spring turkey' seems more appropriate?'

..., the french are detested throughout, 'all of africa'!-- as is, [ME] turkey... for they turned on islam/ [muslim]  in return for the west temporal sanctity? a known-no!?

Syria, Lebanon,...

ref:    Note: must reference 'safavid emipre' at bottom of page



SelfGov's picture

EROEI will be going down drastically with all the money spent on increased security.

Random's picture

Correct me if i am wrong but the EOREI won't decrease but rather the ROI.

Seize Mars's picture

Sorry I couldn't read this without thinking that the article is a prank or an Onion article or something.

Hold it.

"The biggest mistake the industry makes is to ignore regional and geopolitical dynamics."

Ha ha ha ha!! Standard Oil doesn't understand geopolitical dynamics? M'kay.

"Not only will security costs rise; so will insurance premiums along with the cost of relocating personnel.  Projects will be delayed, and production will take a small hit, but this will be only temporary."

Yeah, too bad that they'll just have to charge more for oil now. Too bad, that.

"...that is to say, the markets will not take the Algerian incident as seriously as it should."

What markets? The rigged shit show that we call markets?

"Key to assessing the real security risk to Western energy firms is understanding why the BP field was chosen as a target."

No, Big Oil chose the target because Mali, nearby produces about 55.5 tons of gold / yr. Remember how they told Germany that they can have their gold back in seven years? (55.5 t/yr) x (7 yr) = 388 tons. Yep that's about right.

Africa, baby! Gold, oil and (drumroll) a shitload of unsecuritised shit waiting for re-re-re-hypothecation!

Pure Evil's picture

This whole article smells of propaganda from some governmental agency. I'm reminded of Orwell's dystopian 1984. Winston is allowed to see between the pages of the book and given access to exactly how Big Brother keeps control of the proles.

And the whole thing boils down to two seperate Al Queda groups fighting each other for control?

So instead of actually attacking the other organization they take out their fury against the Amenas gas facility? That must have really pissed of the other terror group. No damage is done to the gas facilities and hostages are taken but not killed until the rescue operation? Were not allowed to see any of the dead bodies as we were after the Bengazi raids? We were able to handle it for Bengazi but we're now too delicate to see the bodies from the Amenas gas facilities?

To me its just another false flag operation to keep us distracted and off balance. Not to mention how the State Department tried to use this whole fiasco to rehabilitate its image after what happened in Bengazi and just in time for the Congressional hearings over Bengazi on Capitol Hill.

This whole explanation stinks. You couldn't sell this pile crap from a used car lot even if you blinged it up with chrome spinners. So now I guess we can expect the price of gas to rise to $5.00+ a gallon to pay for overseas protection services? Or as sheep are we supposed to bleep in urgent tones that we want our troops sent to Africa to protect our overseas oil and gas facilities. Or in this case Britians oil and gas operations.

Ace Ventura's picture

Freakin' BINGO. Amazing how these days we can take events such as these, and with relatively little effort, pull back the increasingly sheer curtain to see what these asshats are REALLY up to.

Laser Shark's picture

My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel...

-Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum

Enjoy the Oil Age.

Oldrepublic's picture

dirt to dirt, camel to camel

Salah's picture

Doesn't matter: Australia just made the biggest oil discovery of the last 50 years.

Neptune's in Pisces...bitchez....



Laser Shark's picture

Salah, your article says, "It is likely that only 3.5 billion barrels, worth almost $359 billion at today’s oil price, could be recovered."

The world uses around 85 million barrels of oil each day, so that's a 41 day supply.  It's not useless, but it's not like Jed shooting a hole in the ground and striking oil either.

It's likely that the energy company is being incredibly optimistic, at best - or just lying.  The energy market is just as manipulated as LIBOR.

Anyway, it only took oil at around $150/bbl to break America's back.  So, if it's too expensive to extract, then it might as well not be there.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

Article is a bit confusing, also speaks of:

« between 133 billion and 233 billion barrels of shale oil trapped in rocks ... “If you took the 233 billion [barrels], well, you’re talking Saudi Arabia numbers,” Mr Bond told ABC News. »

Those would be huge numbers ... years of global supply if that could be accessed

But quite true it is hard to know truth from fiction in the oil propaganda biz, and shale oil is a category of ambiguity by itself, with the environmental and access problems.

The debates from the oil engineering people on the Oil Drum site are helpful and detailed ... and ultimately not so optimistic

ian807's picture

The world uses 30 billion barrels a year:

133 billion barrels extends world oil supplies by 4.43 years.

233 billion barrels extends world oil supplies by 7.76 years.

Oil supply does not equal energy supply. If it takes the energy of 2 barrels of oil to get one, you're net negative.

Since this is shale oil, the net energy return is much lower than that of conventional wells. Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:1 to 2:1 ( The absolute amount of energy represented by this quantity of oil is significantly less than that represented by conventional oil (

There are these new fangled things called "google" and "calculators." They can save a lot of embarrassment.


trav777's picture

GFD You JUST IMPLIED that this reserve can produce 85mbpd. It CANNOT.

At MOST a reserve of this size might yield 250kbpd.  That is NOT "41 days" of supply.  It is enough to satisfy 1/340 of current world demand, or 360 seconds' worth.

this is the APPROPRIATE way to evaluate reserves, look at expected PRODUCTION.  Divide THAT into consumption and come up with an answer.  6 minutes per day worth of supply makes people realize how TRIFLING such a discovery is.  "41 days" sounds like "well, we'll just find another one on day 40, I seem to read news blurbs every few weeks about a discovery like this, so we'll just make do."

this moron below who says "saudi arabia numbers" based upon reserves can go fuck himself as he's a fucking idiot.  RATE OF PRODUCTION is what matters, NOT reserves.

bugs_'s picture

pssst! hey militants - BP is partially owned by ....THE RUSSIANS.  might want to rethink your soft target selection.  WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE???

Bobportlandor's picture

Billions will now be spent on securing Western energy interests across the region


Jack Burton's picture

Remember too, that every USA or NATO soldier on the ground in Africa is one less set of footprints for a Chinaman to fill! In short, NATO intervention in Africa has more to do with China than a handful of ragtag Jihadists. Though they do provide the PERFECT excuse to flood resource rich Africa nations with western troops. Here we see Al-Qaeda performing a very useful function for the USA and it's NATO alliance. This is part of the opening rounds of serious resource wars. Several billion new people are coming in the next few decades, at least a billion of these want the western lifestyle. That takes a heap of resources. Go long all the commodities! It may take time, but resource wars are going to be the future. Already the South China sea is heating up, Africa too!

Renewable Life's picture

Bingo, now we are snooping in the right corner!!!

China just spent a trillion dollars in the last 5 years in Africa, building relationships, they are going to be VERY pissed about this NATO power grab for the gold and other goodies!

Cue up the North Korean nukes and blow some Japanese shit up quick!

Chaos_Theory's picture

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme"

--Mark Twain

Looks like we're doomed to rhyme the 1910s-1919 cycle.  Almost like a frigging checklist:

  • Quest for colonies then, securing "access" to resources now
  • Dominant naval power's policy of preventing a challenger from rising then, dominant military power's policy of preventing a challenger from rising now
  • "The Great Illusion" then, "intertwined global economy" now as the panacaea to prevent war between trade partners
  • Little backwater firecracker (Serbia) then, little backwater firecracker (Norks) now
  • Fading power (Hapsburg Empire) starting a fight that would engage a rising power (Russia) then, Japan v. China now
  • Alliance system then, graying alliance (NATO) vs. a soft-alliance (SCC)
  • Bankers fed the fire of war with loans that could never be repaid by .gov then, same same now
  • Common people were anti-war then, same same now
  • The "neutral" media painted the opposition in formulair propoganda then....
  • Both sides in truth had a lack of moral high ground then...
  • U.S. President Wilson ignored the Bill of Rights to silence "national security" threats...
  • The generals didn't comprehend that warfare had changed and kept feeding soldiers' lives into the cauldron with no hope of victory (ready boys...go over the trench and charge that machine gun in the other trench!)...

I guess the question is are we closer to 1910 or 1914 now...

steve from virginia's picture



Hmmm ... for a cost of 32 men and some machine guns and RPGs the Algerians were able to strike a lethal blow against the colonial Westerners ... bent on stealing everything that isn't nailed down.


Algerian resources belong to Algerians, not Statoil or BP. The same is true for Libyan, Syrian, Palestinian and Egyptian resources. Better luck for the militants next time, perhaps they can kill- and drive out all of the Westerners ... who need to learn how to live within their means.

Archduke's picture

that would be true if the govt tried to nationalise the assets.
philistine tuaregs on a sharia path won't be engineers soon.