One Statoil employee “came to safety” overnight and was treated at a hospital in the nearby town of In Amenas, the company said in a statement Friday. Five employees who escaped the plant Wednesday have been evacuated to Majorca, the company said, and three Algerian Statoil workers who escaped are safely in the capital, Algiers.
Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp. said it still had not been able to account for 14 of its employees at the plant, according to a Reuters report.
BP said there is “a small number of BP employees” whose location and situation “remain uncertain,” adding that the company was “working with the Algerian government and authorities to confirm their status.”
BP said it had teams on the ground working on the situation. Overnight, the company said, it began bringing non-essential workers out of Algeria. Three flights left Algeria Thursday, carrying 11 BP employees alongside several hundred staff from other companies, including Spain’s Cespa. The first flight arrived in London, while the other two landed in Palma, Majorca. Evacuees on those planes are slated to travel to their final destinations Friday.
“A fourth plane is expected to transport further staff out of the country today and we will arrange further flights as necessary,” BP said.
Statoil and BP are also evacuating nonessential personnel from two other gas processing plants in Algeria, In Salah and Hassi Mouina. Statoil said about 40 of its employees would be on board the planes that left Algeria Thursday.
A medically equipped U.S. military aircraft was sent to Algeria Friday to evacuate between 10 and 20 people who had been held hostage at the gas plant, said Tom Saunders, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Saunders said the former hostages would be transported to “a U.S. facility” in Europe, but he declined to identify where, citing security concerns. He said the rescued individuals were of several different nationalities, but he could not give details of their medical condition or confirm whether Americans were among them.
Analysts were divided over whether the attack — which might turn out to be one of the most lethal incidents in the history of the oil and gas industry — would usher in a period of instability in energy markets.
On Thursday, markets were calm. In New York exchanges, the benchmark West Texas Intermediate grade of crude oil advanced 0.7 percent to $94.87 a barrel, its highest level in four months. But the increase was seen as a response to strong data about the U.S. economy and a drop in U.S. crude inventories. In late morning trading Friday, the price edged down 42 cents, to $95.07 a barrel for February delivery.