LONDON Jan 16 The gas installation where dozens
of foreign gas industry workers were being held hostage on
Wednesday is their home as well as their workplace.
Algerian state oil company Sonatrach's base in Tigantourine,
the site of the kidnapping according to the Algerian interior
ministry, lies about 25 km (15 miles) southwest of the town of
In Amenas, a settlement of about 5,000 people near the Libyan
border surrounded by oil and gas production facilities.
The rectangular-shaped Tigantourine installation (sometimes
spelled Tiguentourine) looks a lonely place on a Google
The capital Algiers is 1,300 km to the north. Further west
and south lies little but desert for hundreds of kilometres as
far as the borders with Mali and Niger, countries which have
seen kidnappings by al Qaeda-linked Islamists and criminal gangs
"Once you are there on site you don't go wandering about,"
said an oil industry source.
The In Amenas gas project is run by Sonatrach, the British
oil company BP, and Statoil of Norway. BP first
worked in Algeria in the 1950s and returned in the late 1990s at
the end of a long period of bloodshed and upheaval. The British
company considers itself the largest foreign investor in
According to BP's website, the In Amenas venture, one of the
largest "wet gas" projects in Algeria, consists of a permanent
accommodation camp and utility buildings where workers are
engaged in adding extra compression to maintain gas output
The project is in the process of adding a new "slugcatcher"
- a system that separates liquids from gas to prevent overload
of a connected gas pipeline.
In Amenas produces 9 billion cubic metres of gas a
year(160,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day), more than a
tenth of the country's overall gas output, and 60,000 barrels a
day of condensate - a liquid often found with gas.
The kidnappers were said to be holding up to 41 foreigners
at Tigantourine after a dawn raid, including seven Americans.
The raiders were also reported to have killed three people,
including a Briton and a French national.