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Iraq oil minister says Exxon Mobil evacuation of foreign staff "unacceptable and unjustified"

Iraq oil minister says Exxon Mobil evacuation of foreign staff "unacceptable and unjustified"
FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban speaks to the media at the ministry's headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily -
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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil's decision to evacuate its foreign staff from the West Qurna 1 oilfield in southern Iraq on Saturday was "unacceptable and unjustified", Iraq's Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Sunday.

"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," Ghadhban said in a statement.

Ghadhban said he sent a letter to Exxon Mobil asking for the company to immediately return to work at the southern oil field, ahead of a meeting with company executives later this week. Exxon Mobil, which has a long term contract to improve the oil field on behalf of Iraq's state South Oil Company, withdrew all foreign staff, around 60 people, Iraqi officials have said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Peter Graff)

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