UPDATE 1-Hess suspends Iraqi Kurdistan operations, evacuates staff

Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:46am EDT

(Adds details, background)

LONDON Aug 11 (Reuters) - U.S. oil producer Hess Corp has suspended oil-drilling operations in Iraqi Kurdistan and started to evacuate non-essential staff amid spreading violence in the region, its minority partner Petroceltic said.

"It has been decided, as a precautionary measure, to temporarily secure and suspend operations, including the drilling of Shireen-1 exploration well in the Dinarta licence," Petroceltic said in a statement.

Hess operates Iraqi Kurdistan's Dinarta and Shakrok fields, in which Petroceltic owns a 16 percent stake and the Kurdistan regional government has a 20 percent share.

The partners started drilling a first well, Shireen-1, on the Dinarta block in June and had expected exploration work to last five months.

They plugged and abandoned the Shakrok-1 well earlier this year after disappointing exploration results.

The decision to suspend operations follows announcements on evacuations and interruptions of production from other oil companies active in the region, including Afren and Taqa, as violence spreads with the advance of Islamic State militants. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Keiron Henderson and Dale Hudson)