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Exxon staff evacuation from Iraq faulted

FILE – In this Thursday Jan. 12, 2017 file photo, workers walk in the Nihran Bin Omar field north near Basra, Iraq. An Iraqi oil official says employees of energy giant Exxon Mobil have started evacuating an oil field in the southern province of Basra, amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. The first group left two days ago and another batch left early Saturday May 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani, File)

BAGHDAD, May 19, (RTRS): Exxon Mobil’s decision to evacuate its foreign staff from the West Qurna 1 oilfield in southern Iraq on Saturday was “unacceptable and unjustified”, Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Sunday.

“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,” Ghadhban said in a statement.

A major oil deal between Iraq and Exxon Mobil was “very close” but had been slowed by Exxon’s decision to evacuate its international staff from the West Qurna oil field, Ghadhban said on Sunday. “Had we concluded we would have signed a heads of agreement,” he said, referring to a preliminary document that would set out terms of cooperation on the South Integrated Project. “But now they are out of the country, why should I run after them?” he said at an oil meeting in Jeddah

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