November 12, 2013 / 2:06 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 3-Baker Hughes stops work in Iraq after security incident

Nov 11 (Reuters) - U.S. oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc said on Monday it has suspended operations in Iraq following a weekend protest at a facility near the southern town of Basra.

Baker Hughes said it had issued force majeure notices to its customers “due to the significant disruption of business”, although there were no injuries from the incident on Saturday.

“While we investigate this incident and until the work environment has stabilized, we are halting activities in Iraq,” Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes chief executive said in a statement.

“We hope to resolve this issue in a timely manner and resume operations in support of our customers and the country of Iraq, as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Angry Shi‘ite Muslim workers and tribesmen early on Monday wrecked offices at a Schlumberger Ltd drilling site in Rumaila North, also in the Basra region, accusing a foreign security adviser of insulting their religion.

Oil officials said Schlumberger had suspended its operations in response to the row, which came after the adviser reportedly tore down a banner portraying Imam Hussein, whose death 1,000 years ago is being commemorated by Shi‘ites.

It was not clear if the conflict at the Schlumberger site was related to Baker Hughes’ suspension of operations and Baker Hughes spokeswoman Christine Mathers told Reuters late on Monday that it is too early to tell if there is any connection.

“Right now or focus is on the security of our people. We are working with local authorities and hope to resume work on behalf of our customers and Iraq as soon as safe,” Mathers said.

In its last annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Baker Hughes said it held integrated operations contracts in Iraq. In May, the company said it expected its operations there to expand to 11 rigs.

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