ERBIL — By evacuating its foreign employees from Iraq, ExxonMobil will hurt a deal Baghdad that was about to be made with the company, said the Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban.
"Had we concluded we would have signed the heads of agreement," he said, referring to a preliminary document that would set out terms of cooperation on the South Integrated Project. "But now they are out of the country, why should I run after them?”
Earlier on Thursday, ExxonMobil moved all the foreign employees from Basra’s West Qurna oilfield to Dubai. The decision was made after US State Department ordered part of its embassy and consulate staff to leave Iraq for Iranian threats.
Ghadhban said the evacuations were not due to security threats in Iraq, instead blaming "political reasons, attributed to political tensions in the region”, as reported by al-Jazeera.
"For us, this withdrawal is unacceptable and unjustified because other international companies are working freely and safely in developing oil fields,” he added.