World News

Iraq oil ministry denies CNPC pulled West Qurna staff

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s oil ministry on Thursday denied that China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had pulled out its staff from West Qurna 1 oilfield operated by U.S. major Exxon Mobil because of tensions in the region.

CNPC’s office manager in Baghdad affirmed the company’s commitment to developing Iraq’s oilfields and said none of the workers had departed Iraq, the ministry said.

Reuters citing a company source reported on Wednesday that CNPC, a top investor in Iraqi oil, had withdrawn about 20 employees from the West Qurna-1 field on Sunday.

CNPC made the move after last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, the Beijing-based source said, adding that the state firm has kept staff in place at two other fields.

Iraq’s oil production and exports are stable and have not been affected by recent security developments, oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said.

Iraq’s daily average production stands at 4.46 million barrels per day (bpd) in line with an agreement with OPEC and other oil producers, Jihad said.

Iraq exported 3.428 million bpd in December, including 3.326 million bpd from its southern Basra terminals.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed