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natural-gas-ALGIERS: Algeria did not reduce its gas exports after the start of the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas plant, the country's energy minister said Saturday.

 

"Our partners did not suffer from the situation. We did not cut our gas exports, we simply compensated the shortfall in production with production from other fields," APS news agency quoted Youcef Yousfi as saying.

 

He added that production at In Amenas made up only a small portion of Algeria's national output.

 

Algerian troops stormed the plant earlier Saturday to end the three-day hostage crisis that left 23 foreigners and Algerians dead, seven of them executed by their captors in a final military assault.

 

Yousfi said damage to the plant was "not huge as equipment had been depressurised.

 

"There was no explosion," he explained.

 

A fire caused by the kidnappers was "brought under control thanks to Algerian technicians who were assisted by the security services and army soldiers", he added.

 

The site which opened in 2006 would be fully operational again once mine-clearing operations have been completed.

 

In Amenas is a joint venture gas project run by the Algerian state oil and gas company Sonatrach, Norway's Statoil and BP. At any one time it might have a workforce of between 500 and 700 people, BP has said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013