Iraqi oil minister: Exxon Mobil evacuation occurred for political reasons

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.

Ghadhban said he sent a letter to Exxon Mobil asking for the company to immediately return to work at the southern oil field, ahead of a meeting with company executives later this week. Exxon Mobil, which has a long term contract to improve the oil field on behalf of Iraq’s state South Oil Company, withdrew all foreign staff, around 60 people, Iraqi officials have said.

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