The US embassy in Baghdad has urged all US citizens to leave Iraq immediately, after the US killed Iranian military general and hardliner Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a Friday airstrike.
Iraqi oil officials say that the exodus of dozens of US citizens working for foreign oil companies will not affect oil operations, exports, or production.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the US Embassy urges American citizens to heed the January 2020 Travel Advisory and depart Iraq immediately,” the embassy statement read, adding that “U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy.”
The warning comes after the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “harsh revenge” for today’s US strikes.
Foreign oil companies operating in Iraq include ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, Eni, Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, CNOOC, CNPC, and Total.
In May of last year, some of these foreign oil companies operating in Iraq either evacuated, or contemplated an evacuation of, its personnel on security concerns, as “numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians,” the US State Department warned back in May.
Iraq is OPEC’s second most prolific oil producer behind only Saudi Arabia, producing 4.639 million barrels of oil per day in November 2019, according to secondary sources reported in OPEC’s December version of its Monthly Oil Market Report.
Iraqi oil officials have stated that only American oil workers are leaving Iraq at present, due to the specific risk posed to US citizens, and that other foreign oil workers were staying put, according to CNN.
ExxonMobil reported merely that it is “closely monitoring the situation” and that it was “committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all our facilities around the world.”
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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