Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for a recent rocket-propelled grenade attack on an Algerian gas plant operated by Norway’s Statoil, UK’s BP, and state-run gas company Sonatrach, The Wall Street Journal reported. Al Qaeda’s Algeria-based franchise said the attack was part of its “war on the Crusader interests everywhere”.
The attack at the Krechba gas plant – an extension of the In Salah gas field, about 1,200 km south of the capital, Algiers – caused no casualties and no damage, but forced the facility to be closed as a precaution. Nonetheless, state energy company Sonatrach said that Algeria’s gas production had not been affected, informed Reuters.
Algeria’s oil and gas infrastructure is heavily protected by the army especially since the 2013 Islamist militant attack on the In Amenas gas plant, also operated by BP and Statoil, during which 40 oil workers were killed.
Algeria, which holds the world’s third-largest reserves of shale gas, is betting on the technology to revive its stagnating energy sector and has held talks to get assistance from Italy’s Eni and US’s Exxon Mobil.
Nevertheless, the plans have triggered protests in Algeria’s Sahara, where locals fear environmental damage and the exhaustion of water reserves. Al Qaeda now appears intent on tapping this popular resentment and is threatening more operations against Western companies.