ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi oil officials on Monday claimed that production at the country’s southern West Qurna 1 oilfield had reached 465,000 barrels per day after upgrades on the processing capacity of the field, Reuters reported.
The site was developed by Exxon, the foreign staff of which were evacuated mid-May, about sixty people. They all returned on June 2, after the Iraqi government agree to the company’s request to add additional security at the employees' work and residential areas, officials previously told Reuters.
Officials from Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Company earlier stated that output at the oilfield remained unaffected by the evacuations, with the normal amount of 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) being aptly extracted by Iraqi staff.
The evacuations followed an order by the US State Department for the departure of non-emergency US government employees from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate-general in Erbil, as well as the suspension of normal visa services.
Tensions between the US and Iran have been mounting since US President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions on Tehran last year. In recent weeks, Washington announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in response to intelligence that Tehran was planning an attack against US targets or allies.
Following the oil company’s staff withdrawal, Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban alleged the decision had nothing to do with security or threats but was motivated by “political reasons,” and labeled it “unacceptable and unjustified.”
Editing by Nadia Riva