ExxonMobil has evacuated its foreign staff of 60 people, from the Iraqi West Qurna 1 oilfield to Dubai, according to industry sources, Reuters reported.
“The foreign engineers will provide advice and perform their duties from the company’s Dubai offices and we have no concerns at all,” said Ihsan Abdul Jabbar, the chief of the Iraqi South Oil Company.
The evacuation came after the US withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad due to rising tensions with Iran.
The oilfield production was not affected by the evacuation as the work has continued at its normal pace, around 440,000 barrels per day (b/d). Moreover, Iraqi engineers have been supervising the oilfield, according to Jabbar.
“ExxonMobil’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,” Jabbar said.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on May 19 that the decision was unacceptable and unjustified.
“The temporary withdrawal of multiple employees – despite their small number – has nothing to do with the security situation or threats in the oilfields of Southern Iraq, but it is for political reasons,” Ghadhban reportedly said in a statement.
Iraq sent an official letter to ExxonMobil asking about the work hours of staff in Dubai and when they would return to the oilfield because their absence affects costs and salaries, Jabbar pointed out.