(Repeats story filed on Tuesday, no change in text)
* BP reduces non-essential staff, others may be doing same
* Indian refiners told to have contingency import plan ready
* Questions mount if Iraq can increase oil output at all
By Vladimir Soldatkin and Nidhi Verma
MOSCOW/NEW DELHI, June 17 Some oil companies are
pulling foreign staff from Iraq, fearing Sunni militants from
the north could strike at major oilfields concentrated in the
Shi'ite south despite moves by the Baghdad government to tighten
Iraqi officials say the southern regions that produce some
90 percent of the country's oil are completely safe from the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized
much of the north in a week as Baghdad's forces there collapsed.
The government says 100,000 police dedicated to protecting
oil facilities are on high alert and well armed.
But oil firms are taking no chances with the foreign expert
staff who could be prime targets for jihadists. And some
importers of Iraqi oil are getting nervous about supplies.
"We are just very vigilant in Iraq. Non-essential production
people have left, but operations continue," said Bob Dudley,
chief executive at BP, a major investor in Iraq through
the giant Rumaila field. He was speaking to reporters in Moscow.
Industry newsletter Iraq Oil Report said Exxon Mobil
, which is developing another huge field, West Qurna 1,
was also cutting staffing levels. Exxon declined comment.
In a mark of concern abroad, Turkey evacuated its consulate
in the southern oil hub of Basra on Tuesday.
Though the departure of foreigners would have only limited
near-term impact on output, the risk of wider civil war - not
restricted to attacks in the south by Sunnis but also a possible
revival of friction among Shi'ite factions - could hit
production and certainly hold back plans for expansion.
Russian firms said they were not reducing staff so far but
were working on contingency plans.
At Gazprom Neft, first deputy head Vadim Yakovlev
said of its work in the Badra field, on the Iranian border east
of Baghdad: "Everything is going according to plan for now but
we are working on plan B, including evacuation options."
China's foreign ministry has advised citizens to avoid Iraq.
In India, which with China is the biggest importer of oil
from OPEC's second largest producer after Saudi Arabia, an
official said there were concerns about future Iraqi supplies.
The Indian oil ministry official said his department asked
refiners to have alternatives: "They should have a contingency
plan ready to avoid any supply disruption from Iraq," he said.
In 2013, Iraqi oil accounted for 14.5 percent of Indian
needs. An official at an Indian refiner said he
saw no supply problem at the moment and that Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates could make up any future shortfall.
International oil executives note that their assets in Iraq
are a long way from the seat of the troubles in the north: "The
people we are dealing with appear to be very much in control of
the oil communications that we have," said BP's Dudley.
Yet firms are well aware of the need for vigilance after
attacks on facilities in various parts of the world, including
one which killed dozens of workers at a BP gas plant deep in the
Sahara desert 18 months ago. The speed with which ISIL fighters
have routed Iraqi forces underlines their potential to surprise.
Almost all international oil majors work with Baghdad on
joint projects including Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch/Shell,
ENI, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil and Chinese firms.
Security sources working for the oil industry say companies
will proceed with a full evacuation of the hundreds of foreign
staff they employ in Iraq only if there is a major escalation of
violence - such as a major attack in Baghdad or Basra.
"For each company, the triggers for evacuation are
different," one security source said. "They analyse
practicalities, how you get people out and how you make sure
fields continue to operate, possibly even unmanned."
Basra, on the Gulf, has enormous strategic importance to
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government as the hub for oil
exports accounting for over 95 percent of government revenue.
It presents a tough and distant target for Sunni insurgents
and saw relatively little of the sectarian violence of the past
decade. It has seen bombings, however, including in the past
year, and has also been a battleground for Maliki against
opponents among fellow Shi'ites, notably during 2008.
RISKS TO PLANS
Iraq wants to double or even triple output from the current
level of 3.2 million barrels per day by the end of this decade,
but hopes that it will be able to achieve that are fading.
"The bigger question than the immediate threat to production
is Iraq's ability to meet the expectation to meet 60 percent of
the world's oil demand growth needs," said Majid Jafar, chief
executive at Crescent Petroleum.
A Barclays research team noted that while oil firms have not
yet seen a major impact on operations, oil service firms such as
Baker Hughes and Schlumberger suspended work for
a time last year after labour unrest.
"Activity is stable, though this area does not appear to be
outside the reach of the insurgents given the periodic bombings
in and around Basra in recent months," the Barclays team wrote.
The think-tank Energy Aspects said that the rate of activity
was likely to slow due to workers being evacuated. Merrill Lynch
said Iraqi oil output was unlikely to grow at all this year.
"The risk of a protracted civil war has become all too
apparent," its analysts wrote. "Longer term, the risks have also
risen as investment projects could be cancelled or delayed."
(Additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova in Moscow, Ahmed
Rasheed in Baghdad and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by
Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)