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Total Boosts Security Spend after Algeria Attack

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DUBAI - French oil and gas major Total SA has increased its security spending in the Middle East following a deadly attack in January on an Algerian natural-gas plant that rekindled fears of raids on energy facilities across the region, a senior executive said Wednesday. 

Asked if the company has raised its security measures and spending in the Middle East, Arnaud Breuillac, Total's president for Middle East exploration and production, told Dow Jones Newswires that the company had done so and he said "but it is not only about the money it's about the people, the risk, and the work." 

The firm is "taking extra care (now)," he said, but declined to say how much it was investing on its security plans. 

Last month, Total said it is planning to drill two exploration wells in Libya in May, in a move that shows that recent security concerns haven't stopped international companies from moving forward with their North African oil-development plans. 

The attack on an Algerian gas plant is forcing global oil giants to rethink protection of oil fields in the Middle East and Africa, a new reality that could potentially boost the cost of crude production. Major oil companies have long been a target of kidnappings and low-level sabotage, but the unprecedented scale of the Algeria attack will likely result in new levels of protection. 

It took Algerian forces several days to retake the In Amenas plant, which is jointly operated by Statoil, BP PLC and Algerian energy company Sonatrach. Forty people were killed.

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

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