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Chevron pulls oil workers from Iraq

Posted at 3:01 PM, Jan 06, 2020

Chevron has evacuated all of its American oil workers from Iraq following last week’s US airstrike in Baghdad.

Chevron, America’s No. 2 oil company, said in a statement Monday that as a “precautionary measure” its expatriate employees and contractors have left the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq “for the time being.” Chevron does not have oil workers elsewhere in Iraq.

“The safety of our people and facilities is Chevron’s top priority globally,” a Chevron spokeswoman told CNN Business.

Local staff are overseeing Chevron’s ongoing operations in the Kurdistan Region, the company said.

The Chevron evacuation comes after the Iraqi oil ministry said Friday that “a number of” Americans working in southern Iraq were leaving the country after the United States urged its citizens to immediately depart due to soaring tensions. Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad late last week.

“A number” of Americans working in southern Iraq began leaving the country after the United States urged its citizens to depart immediately because of heightened tension in Iraq and the region, the Iraqi oil ministry said Friday.

Other foreign workers were not departing and oil fields across the country were operating normally, the Iraqi oil ministry had said.

Oil prices moved higher Mondayas investors reacted to the risk that the death of Soleimani could prompt retaliation by Iran, including attacks on US assets in the region.

Exxon Mobil, a major US oil company, has operations in southern Iraq. Britain’s BP and Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell also work in the region.

In a statement Friday, Exxon said it was “closely monitoring the situation” and that it “has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities.”

Other oil companies, including BP and Shell, declined to comment on their operations.

Exxon is the lead contractor in a project to redevelop the West Qurna I oil field in southern Iraq. Indonesian, Chinese and Iraqi companies are also involved in the project, according to Exxon’s website. Exxon said in its statement that production at West Qurna I was continuing normally. A Shell affiliate exited the project in 2018.

Exxon also has a presence in Baghdad and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, according to its website.

BP has operations in the giant Rumaila oil field in southern Iraq, in partnership with Chinese and Iraqi companies. BP estimates that the field has around 17 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Iraqi oil production has recovered strongly in recent years, hitting 4.7 million barrels per day in late 2019, according to the International Energy Agency.

— Charles Riley, Sara Mazloumsaki and Kareem Khadder contributed reporting.