Iraq Oil Minister Accuses Exxon of Evacuations for ‘Political Reasons’

Evacuation was presented as a 'precautionary' move

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban issued a statement on Sunday deeply critical of the decision of Exxon Mobil to evacuate foreign staff from the West Qurna 1 oilfield, saying it was “unacceptable and unjustified.”

Ghabhban said that the evacuations had nothing to do with the security situation or any threats i 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.

West Qurna 1 is near the border with Iran, and the company officially said the evacuation was a “precautionary” move, implying it was something to do with mounting US-Iran tensions. This is likely to anger Iraq, because the US has used these tensions to put pressure on the Iraqi government.

Iraq’s South Oil Company downplayed the significance of the move, noting the foreign staff are only there to try to expand production at any rate, and that the oil field will remain running at its full current capacity with local workers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of