Oil majors cannot do much to protect their workers. The bloody showdown between Algerian security forces and armed hostage-takers at the In Amenas gas field underscores the lesson. Executives would be happy to throw money at the problem, but this kind of safety cannot be bought by corporate cash.
There have been no suggestions that Statoil and BP, which operated In Amenas, were slack in their efforts to protect employees. The British and Norwegian companies might have wanted more protection, but the Algerian government set the rules. They could do no more than lobby and threaten to leave if security was not improved.