Norway Considers Sharing Risk Intelligence with Businesses

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OSLO - Norway will consider sharing national risk assessments with businesses operating in politically unstable regions after five Statoil ASA employees were killed in a terrorist attack in Algeria, the Minister of Trade and Industry said Thursday.

Trond Giske was meeting with business associations and unions to discuss security one day after the caskets of four deceased Statoil employees arrived in Norway, following the Jan. 16 terrorist attack and the kidnapping of hostages at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, operated by Statoil ASA, BP PLC and Algerian energy company Sonatrach.

"Of course, when such a dramatic incident occurs, it's a reminder of how important security is," said Mr. Giske. "Our international activity is growing, and this development will continue" he said, adding that "it's no alternative not to engage abroad."

The business associations wanted to combine the risk assessments of Norwegian government ministries and agencies, embassies and big companies, and to make them easily accessible to each other as well as to smaller companies.

"Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a serious incident to increase the focus on security," said Kristine Breitland, leader of NSR, a council set up by business associations in sectors like shipping, oil and gas and telecom to give security advice to companies.

Among the bigger Norwegian companies with global operations are telecom provider Telenor ASA, aluminum producer Norsk Hydro ASA and fertilizer producer Yara International ASA.

Even companies with solid emergency organizations had been reviewing their preparedness after the attack, Ms. Breitland said. But most Norwegian companies are small and medium-sized, and will need help from the government and big companies to gather intelligence, Ms. Breitland said.

"They need good tools and to know what risks they are facing," she said. "Statoil has been in front and said it will share what it finds in its investigation process [after the Algeria attack]. That's positive."

If Statoil couldn't guarantee the safety of its workers in any of its facilities abroad, Chief Executive Helge Lund said Wednesday, "we can't have employees in those areas."

Statoil has said it operates in politically, economically and socially unstable areas of the world, and has identified a range of potential threats such as wars, guerilla activity, nationalization of assets, political unrest, strikes and insurrections.

"The span of topics is so huge," said Petter Haas Brubakk, executive director of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, who joined the calls for the government to improve information sharing. "Some countries you avoid because they are too dangerous. It may be health-related risk, traffic risk, abduction, crime, corruption--you have to analyze each country to be prepared."

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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