I see three areas of focus coming out of this new conflict, that PMSC’s will be crucial for. The first is security services for private interest throughout the Sahel. In the articles below, I have listed all the actions of companies in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali, and it is one of reaction to the events in Mali. The Islamists are targeting western interest as a way of hitting back at France and the west, and the hostage crisis in Algeria is a prime example.
The services I see as crucial would be an increase in PSD services, kidnap and ransom services, static security reviews and manpower increases at facilities, and evacuation services.
The second area of focus for PMSC’s would be logistics, and especially as the conflict drags on and the ECOWAS force comes into play. Whatever force they come up with, it is being drawn from the poorest nations in the area, and this army will have nothing in the way of equipment or support. So I could see the typical players for logistics stepping up for this conflict. The AMISOM mission is a good example of what I am talking about and I believe the main players there are Dyncorp, PAE, and Bancroft Global Development.
Perhaps because this is France’s deal, there might be more emphasis on using French PMSC’s? On the other hand, if the US is footing the bill for training up this ECOWAS force, then it will be their choice for who will support the mission. There will be plenty to choose from and we will see how this pans out?
The final area of focus will be training. I really think the model here will be something like what is going on with AMISOM for Somalia. The forces of ECOWAS will have very little to no experience fighting in deserts or fighting an insurgency. You need a robust training program that will meet then needs of such a mission. Not only that, but you must also account for the education levels of those forces being sent in the first place. So training will be vital to the success of France and the west in Mali, and this will be a long term effort much like how AMISOM has turned out.
I could even see some contracts coming up that are focused on training the new government of Mali. Training, mentoring, and support for both the government and the military, will all be possible contracts in the future for companies.
Overall though, I don’t give Mali much hope unless it figures out it leadership and government. Hopefully the new government will come together and stay focused, but these things tend to be really messy if we look at past experiences. Yet again, I point to Somalia as the model of how messy this could be. Mali must have a leader or leaders that the people (and soldiers) can support and even fight for. The west can expend millions of dollars on training this military to expel the jihadists from the north, but Mali must have a solid government or ‘foundation’ to build from in order to keep the jihadists and military in check, now and well into the future. -Matt
Edit: 01/20/2013- I wanted to add two more articles that detailed the efforts of energy firms throughout the region. Either companies are boosting security, or they are evacuating folks just to be safe.
The Energy Giants at Most Risk in Northern Africa
Security experts said Algerian authorities may now need to rethink the way security is handled, allowing more foreign involvement in the process.In other high-risk resource-rich countries, such as Iraq, foreign companies commonly employ private Western security companies that are staffed by armed expatriates. Algeria, in contrast, keeps the majority of armed security personnel local, said one security consultant.Typically in Algeria, an oil company hires a foreign contractor to advise on security or to head a team, but the majority of the personnel carrying arms are limited to Algerians, the person said. Some of that security is provided by companies set up by retired Algerian generals, the person said.The system could result in lower-quality security, he said. “Even before the French were in Mali, Algeria hasn’t been the safest place to operate in for a long time,” the security consultant said.
Algeria crisis triggers Libya, Egypt oil security review
Jan 18 2013
* Libya says boost oilfield protection in south
* Italy’s ENI biggest operator across the border
* Some firms in Egypt say reviewing security
* Staff evacuation, tighter security to raise costs,
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ron Bousso
Libya rushed to beef up security at its oil fields and energy firms were considering similar measures in Egypt as Islamist militants threatened to attack new installations in north Africa.
More than 20 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex near the Libyan border to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants.
Hundreds of workers were evacuated from a number of Algerian production sites on the border with Libya to safer places in the country’s centre and industry experts said that could ultimately lead to lower oil and gas production from the OPEC member state.
Libya and Algeria are Africa’s third and fourth largest oil producers with Libya also the largest oil reserves holder on the continent. Together with Egypt they are important gas suppliers to Europe and the budgets of all three countries are heavily dependant on energy revenues.
Libya’s oil protection force, affiliated with the defence ministry, said there had been no reports of incursions into its oilfields, where more guards and military personal had been deployed and security patrols intensified inside and around the sites around the clock.
“Due to events in the region, the Petroleum Faculty Guard has taken a series of actions to enhance and reinforce the protection of oilfields, facilities and employees in the western and southern regions of Libya,” it said.
A Western security adviser working in Libya said by telephone he was not sure that would immediately boost security, since the oil protection force, set up after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, was at an “embryonic stage”.
Libya’s National Oil Corporation chairman Nuri Berruien confirmed increased security measures at fields on the Algerian border.
Some Libyan oil fields such as Italy’s Eni’s Elephant are located several hundreds of kilometers (miles) across the desert from In Amenas, where the hostage tragedy unfolded this week.
The militants said they attacked the facility in retaliation for France’s intervention in neighbouring Mali and warned Algerians to stay away from sites with a foreign presence.
That attack and the warning triggered a mass exodus of expatriates from Algerian oil and gas production sites and security experts have said similar evacuation could be on the way across other north African countries.
BP said on Friday hundreds of workers from international oil companies had been evacuated from Algeria on Thursday and many more would follow.
Crispin Hawes, from Eurasia consultancy, who said he had visited the In Amenas site several times, said oil companies removed non-essential staff in such circumstances as part of their established protocols. “In other nearby countries, similar responses are also almost automatically triggered,” he said.
“Every international oil company operation in Algeria will be obliged by insurers to take certain precautions to avoid and mitigate such instances. Premiums are likely to rise and the expatriation of staff will add to operating costs”.
He said the exodus of expats might delay some projects but added that very big outages were unlikely as the biggest fields in southern Algeria such as Hassi Mesaoud were “extremely secure”.
NOT SO SECURE
Spain’s Cepsa, which is the biggest foreign player in Algeria operating the country’s No.2 oilfield Ourhoud some 300 km (186 miles) north of In Amenas, decided to evacuate staff towards the country’s centre and away from the Libyan border, an industry source said.
A source at Algeria’s state oil firm Sonatrach, who works at the country’s top oil field Hassi Messaoud, said security had been raised even though the deposit was 900 km (560 miles) away from In Amenas.
“Automatically, when you have an incident like this, security will be on alert, we prepare ourselves,” he said.
A Western risk consultant, specialising on North Africa, said the security situation in Algeria could not be beefed up as quickly as in Libya.
“Westerners have been lulled by the idea that the state will provide security. Now they may want to increase it, but Algeria, being socialist, simply doesn’t like the idea of private security,” he said.
People who have worked at the In Amenas plant say it was heavily fortified, with security, controlled access and an army camp with hundreds of armed personnel between the accommodation and processing plant.
Even in Egypt, thousands of kilometers away from In Amenas, the oil industry was feeling unnerved.
“If there is a critical situation (in Egypt) we will take measures including staff evacuation. At the moment, everything is under control,” a spokesman for Russian oil major LUKOIL said.
Royal Dutch/Shell, which has a heavy presence in Egypt, said it was looking carefully at the geopolitical situation to make appropriate security arrangements, but declined specific country-related comments.
Chief executive of global oilfield services major Schlumberger, Paal Kibsgaard, told a conference call on Friday security in the entire region was under renewed scrutiny.
“If you talk about Algeria and Libya, we are operating there with security measures and, with what has happened in the last week, we are relooking at that,” he said.
Oil firms evacuate non-essential workers from Algeria
Militants threaten further attacks, and experts say In Amenas raid has implications for foreign firms operating across region.
18 January 2013
International oil companies began evacuating hundreds of non-essential workers from Algeria on Friday as militants said they planned further attacks on foreign installations.
A spokesman for the Mulathameen Brigade, a group that claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping at In Amenas this week, called on Algerians to “keep away from the installations of foreign companies, because we will suddenly attack where no one would expect it”.
The threat was reported by the Mauritanian news agency ANI, which is in frequent contact with militant groups in the area.
BP, which operates the In Amenas gas facility with Norway’s Statoil and Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach, began evacuating workers from the area on Thursday, with more flights planned for the coming days.
“Three flights left Algeria yesterday carrying a total of 11 BP employees alongside several hundred staff from other companies,” it said. “A fourth plane is expected to transport further staff out of the country and we will arrange further flights as necessary.”
BP stressed that it was a “precautionary and temporary measure”.
Experts said the attack would force oil companies to increase their security protocols and minimise personnel in the region.
Algeria has attracted billions of dollars in foreign investment in an oil and gas industry that supplies up to 25% of the European Union’s gas. Thousands of foreign workers are employed in its fields, which are protected by the military as well as private security.
BP, Statoil, Italy’s Eni, Spain’s Cepsa and Repsol and the US company Total are among the key players. Because security has previously been so effective, oil companies have ventured into the more remote and challenging areas that border Mali and Libya.
The hostage-taking has implications across the region. Offshore reserves of oil and natural gas have been found in Mauritania, where the Chinguetti and Tiof fields are expected to yield millions of barrels. International companies are starting to return to Libya, which has several installations close to the Algerian border. In Niger uranium is the big draw, especially for the French nuclear energy industry.
Jon Marks, north Africa expert and chairman of Cross-Border Information, which publishes African Energy magazine, said: “When these events are reflected on by the players – the international oil companies (IOCs), the governments – over the next few weeks, clearly the very fact this attack has taken place will have real resonance. Right the way across the region, IOCs are going to start evaluating their attitudes to risk.
“In Libya people have only very gingerly been making their way back in. You’re seeing the opening up of countries like Mali and Mauritania. Algeria has been absolutely the cornerstone of the European Union’s gas supply. And the Algerians reacted in the way they did because the military was not going to allow this to happen on its patch.
“So you can honestly say there will be a major security lockdown in Algeria, and although you are talking about wide open spaces, there will be a lot of projection of firepower and men around the major facilities.”
Claire Spencer, the head of the Middle East and north Africa programme at Chatham House, said: “The assumption has been over the last decade that all the security provision in place – the Algerian security forces and private security guards employed by IOCs – is enough to put off any attack. This shows clearly it isn’t sufficient.”
She said any review of security should look at the dynamics of the region, including the 30,000 Tuareg living on both sides of the Mali–Algeria Sahara border whose interests “socio-economic and political have largely not been addressed in the past”.
Catherine Hunter, a senior analyst at IHS Energy, said remote oil and gas fields offered “high-profile and prestigious targets, with the dual benefits – from an Islamist perspective – of damaging reputation and revenues of the host government as well as the interests of largely western foreign investors”.
The likelihood of further attacks was high, she said, especially in Libya because of disarray in the armed forces and also recent incidents of civil oilfield raids.
Italian Oil Giant Pulls Out Of Mali
January 16, 2013
Eni, the Italian oil and gas group, has pulled out of Mali, citing poor prospecting outlook in the troubled African country, it was announced on Wednesday.
Eni spokesman said: “Eni has handed back licenses it had because of the very low potential of the area.”
Eni is the biggest foreign oil major in Africa and has identified the continent as one of its key drivers for growth.
The licenses were handed back before the recent outbreak of fighting in the country, he said.
Eni’s announcement came at a time when France dispatched more troops and conducted airstrikes to flush Islamist rebels from a town in central Mali.
This was after Al Qaeda militants controlling much of the country’s north had hunkered down and warned of a long conflict ahead.
A French official told Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that a coalition of troops from Mali’s West African neighbours would arrive within 10 days to bolster the fight against the militants.
The US has yet to decide on a specific action in support of the intervention, which began with French airstrikes last Friday.
Omar Hamaha, a veteran fighter with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the militant group that has overrun Mali’s north, told WSJ rebels were digging in in cities under their control, threatening a drawn-out guerrilla fight against foreign forces.
“Even if they come at us with nuclear bombs, we will defend the terrain,” Hamaha shouted into the telephone. “This is going to be worse than Afghanistan!”
France’s President François Hollande said French combat jets pinpointed the small garrison town of Diabaly, which rebels took on Monday after driving out the Malian army.
Diabaly is 30 miles south of what has been the front line between government-controlled territory and the rebel-held north of the Saharan country. Hamaha said French bombers began pounding areas outside the town around midnight.
France intervened in Mali last Friday in an effort to block an advance by rebel fighters whom the West fear could use the West African nation as a launching pad for international attacks.
Eni, in partnership with Algeria’s state-owned Sonatrach, said in 2006 it had acquired 5 exploration licenses in Mali’s Taoudeni Basin.