The 16 January attack on Algeria’s In Amenas gas facility could prove to be a watershed moment for the MENA region’s oil industry. Oil companies from Morocco to Kurdistan are reassessing security arrangements and risk assumptions in the wake of the attack which left at least 67 dead. It comes amid a sharp escalation in political violence across North Africa and the Sahel, in what delegates at the 28-29 January Chatham House Mena Energy conference dubbed an ‘arc of instability’.

Governments from Cairo to Algiers have been left reeling, investors with cold feet, populations dismayed, and extremists emboldened by the events of the last two weeks. Almost 60 people died in Egypt in unrest that broke out on the eve of second anniversary of the 25 January revolution that overthrew the Husni Mubarak regime. The town of Suez, which was under curfew for much of last week, was worst affected after protests erupted following death sentences of 21 locals for participating in football riots. Rival politicians met on 31 January in a bid to defuse the crisis, after the head of the country’s armed forces, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned that unless resolved the spiral of violence could lead to the collapse of the Egyptian state. The move late last month by Orascom Construction Industries, one of the country’s largest companies, to change its primary stock exchange listing, from Cairo to Amsterdam, has further undermined investor confidence. (CONTINUED - 1089 WORDS)