Iraqi Oil Minister chastises Exxon for evacuation from oil field

Posted May 20, 2019 by Ken Hanly
Thamer Ghadhban, Iraq's Minister of OIl, in a statement on Sunday was very critical of Exxon Mobil's decision to evacuate foreign staff from West Qurna 1 oil field.
Iraq is currently the fifth-largest oil producer worldwide
Iraq is currently the fifth-largest oil producer worldwide
Iraqi Oil Minister claims the evacuation was for political reasons only
Exxon Mobil, which has a long term contract to improve the oilfield on behalf of Iraq’s state South Oil Company, withdrew all foreign staff, around 60 people, Iraqi officials have said. The Exxon evacuation took place just days after the US withdrew its non-essential staff from the US embassy in Baghdad fearing that there could be attacks on it by Shiite militia. Many Shiite militia in Iraq have close ties to Iran. Any attacks such as that described will no doubt be blamed by the US on Iran heightening tensions with Iran and Iraq even more.
Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban
issued a statement on Sunday claiming the decision of Exxon Mobil to evacuate foreign staff from the West Qurna 1 oilfield, was “unacceptable and unjustified.”
However Exxon said that the move was precautionary as the oilfield is in the south of Iraq near the border with Iran. The justification implies that the move had to do with increasing tensions between Iran and the US.
Ghabhban said that the evacuations had nothing to do with the security situation or any threats in the area, saying he believed it was purely for “political reasons.” He says he sent a letter to Exxon Mobil calling for the immediate return of the workers.
A recent Reuters article quotes Ghadhban: “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."
Iraq government angry with the US
The US is putting pressure on the Iraqi government, but that government is already so angry with the US that it was voting on a bill this weekend that would evict US troops from Iraq as discussed in a recent Digital Journal article.