Exxon Mobil staff evacuation from Iraq 'unacceptable': Oil minister
60 foreign employees were reportedly evacuated from West Qurna 1 oilfield
Iraq's Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban has called the evacuation of Exxon Monbil staff from the nation "unacceptable and unjustified," according to Reuters. He noted that it was politically motivated and not based on security concerns.
"The withdrawal of multiple employees – despite their small number – temporarily has nothing to do with the security situation or threats in the oilfields in of southern Iraq, but it's for political reasons," he said.
Reuters reported on 18 May that Exxon Mobil evacuated the 60 non-Iraqi members of its staff from West Qurna 1 oilfield in Iraq, citing a senior Iraqi official as well as three other sources. Production was apparently not impacted by the evactuation and is continuing under the supervision of Iraqi engineers, South Oil Company head Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told Reuters.
“Exxon Mobil’s evacuation is a precautionary and temporary measure. We have no indication over any dangers, the situation is secure and very stable at the oilfield which is running at full capacity and producing 440,000 bpd,” he said.
“The foreign engineers will provide advice and perform their duties from the company’s Dubai offices and we have no concerns at all,” Jabbar said. He also said that Iraqi engineers normally manage production, and foreign employees were generally assigned there as advisers to the operation.
This follows the US evacuation of its non-essential staff at its Baghdad embassy, as it claimed Iran posed a threat to their safety.
Earlier this month, Ghadhban hinted that a deal with Exxon Mobil and PetroChina would be signed "very soon," as they had "managed to take a step forward in resolving some lingering issues in the deal."