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Oil companies move Algeria workers

British, Spanish and Norwegian oil companies are evacuating workers from Algerian energy facilities following the hostage-taking by Islamic militants in the Sahara desert and Algeria's attempt to free them.

BP said plans were under way to bring some non-essential workers out of the country.

Spain's Compania Espanola de Petroleos said it moved workers from two Algerian facilities to the centre of the country as a precautionary measure and its Algeria operations were functioning normally. Spain gets nearly half its natural gas from Algeria.

Helge Lund, chief executive of Norwegian energy company Statoil, said about 40 non-essential staff would be flown back to Norway.

The hostages were taken by militants linked to Mali's rebel Islamists at a remote Sahara natural gas plant on Wednesday. The site is operated by BP, Statoil and the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach.

A Japanese company, JGC, provides services for the facility.

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