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China's CNPC pulls staff from Iraq oilfield amid Mideast tensions


Rabu, 08 Januari 2020 / 14:30 WIB
China's CNPC pulls staff from Iraq oilfield amid Mideast tensions
ILUSTRASI. CNPC, a top investor in Iraqi oil, has pulled about 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 field operated by U.S. major Exxon Mobil.

Sumber: Reuters | Editor: Wahyu Rahmawati

KONTAN.CO.ID - BEIJING. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), a top investor in Iraqi oil, has pulled about 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 field operated by U.S. major Exxon Mobil amid a jump in regional tensions, a company source familiar with the matter said.

The move was made on Sunday following the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq last week. Iran early on Wednesday launched missile attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq in retaliation, fuelling fears of a wider conflict.

"CNPC pulled out its staff from West Qurna on Jan. 5, following Exxon's direction as they are the operator, right after the U.S. killing of Soleimani," the Beijing-based source said on Wednesday.

The Chinese state oil firm has kept staff in place at two other Iraqi oil fields, he added.

CNPC declined to comment on the matter. Exxon Mobil did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Read Also: Iran fires missiles at Iraqi bases in retaliation for U.S. strike on commander

Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, pumping at about 4.6 million barrels a day. The deteriorating security situation poses a heightened risk to foreign firms operating in its oil and gas sector.

CNPC had maintained its staff of close to 60 at the Rumaila oilfield, a joint venture with operator BP, as well as a team of about 100 at the CNPC-operated Halfaya field, said the source, who declined to be named as he was not authorised to talk to media.

"Teams at Rumaila and Halfaya update headquarters on the securities situation on a daily basis. For now there's no plan for evacuations," the source added.

China's state-run CNOOC Ltd, which produces at the Maysan oilfield in southeast Iraq, has no immediate evacuation plan as the firm has already put in place a "very high" level of security measures due to long-term security concerns, said a CNOOC official.

State-run Korea Gas Corp, which participates in oil and gas development projects in Iraq such as the Zubair oilfield and Mansuiya gas field, is monitoring the situation and has maintained its staff of fewer than 10, a company spokesman said.




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