Iraq slams Exxon Mobil’s staff evacuation, says it’s politically motivated

FILE PHOTO: The West Qurna oilfield © Reuters / Essam Al-Sudani
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Exxon Mobil’s decision to take its foreign employees out from the West Qurna 1 oilfield was unjustified, according to Iraq’s oil minister. He added that the withdrawal does not pose a threat to the country’s oilfields.

“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,” Thamer Ghadhban said in a statement on Sunday. The official slammed the decision as “unacceptable and unjustified” as the companies operate freely and safely in the region. 

It was earlier reported that major US energy company, Exxon Mobil, evacuated around 60 non-Iraqi staff from the oilfield in southern Iraq as a precautionary measure amid rising tensions in the Middle East between neighboring Iran and the US. The withdrawal did not affect the facility’s operations, the head of Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Company which owns the oilfield, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said.

The Iraqi oil ministry is now seeking clarification from the American oil giant and sent Exxon Mobil a letter, demanding that work immediately resume at the oilfield under a long-term agreement.

Exxon Mobil’s decision came on the heels of a US order for non-essential government staff to leave Iraq, both from the US Embassy in Baghdad and the US Consulate in Erbil. Such moves might indicate that the country is expecting some kind of destabilization, even warfare in the region, an analyst earlier told RT.

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