OMV pulls staff from Kurdistan, ponders Crimea - CEO in WirtschaftsBlatt

VIENNA Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:27am EDT

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VIENNA Aug 22 (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV has withdrawn staff from Iraqi Kurdistan, Chief Executive Gerhard Roiss told the WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper, joining an exodus of oil companies away from violence in the region.

A dramatic push by Islamic State militants through northern Iraq to the border with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region has alarmed Baghdad and drawn the first U.S. air strikes on Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.

"We were able to book a gas find in Kurdistan but are not active at the moment. All the staff that were there have left," Roiss told the paper in an interview printed on Friday.

"We are also waiting and seeing (what happens) south of Crimea, where we had plans together with Exxon", he said.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine this year after pro-Western activists toppled President Viktor Yanukovich over his turn away from Europe towards Russia. (Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by William Hardy)