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Explosions In Iraqi Oil Hotspot Kill Five

A series of explosions in Iraqi oil hotpot Kirkuk has killed at least five people and injured 18 more, medical sources reported to Reuters on Thursday. No one has claimed the attacks yet, although the Islamic State is active in the area.

Today’s explosions were preceded a rocket strike a bit over a week ago as tensions flare in the area, creating security concerns for the oil industry and foreign personnel.

Earlier in May, the United Sates evacuated all non-essential personnel from Iraq citing security concerns stemming from Iran in a level 4 travel advisory. The announcement prompted US-based oil behemoth Exxon to review its security measures and begin removing engineering personnel from the country. Iraq confirmed at the time that Exxon had removed all of its foreign employees, or about 60 staff.

Iraq was quick to condemn Exxon for the hasty retreat, accusing Exxon of having motives other than security concerns for the personnel evacuation. While Exxon’s removal of its personnel from the West Qurna 1 oilfield in Basra did not disrupt production according to Iraqi officials, Iraq threatened legal measures for Exxon’s actions.

Today’s explosions were not thought to disrupt oil production in Iraq, instead targeting malls, an ice cream shop, and a butcher’s shop. The unrest in Iraq may have an indirect effect on its oil industry, however, in that it may look less appealing to oil investors and oil companies who would otherwise be interested in Iraq’s oil industry.

Iraq is OPEC’s second largest producer, pumping 4.630 million barrels per day as of April, according to OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report. Other oil companies operating in Iraq include Eni, Rosneft, CNPC, CNOOC, Gazprom, and Lukoil.

The unrest in Iraq comes at a rather precarious time as Iraq is looking to seal the deal with Exxon and PetroChina over a $53 billion project that would generate some $400 billion of the 30-year deal period.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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