Oil majors pull staff from northern Iraq

Evacuation follows call to arms from President Obama.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Aug. 8, 2014 at 9:47 AM
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LONDON, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- British energy company Genel Energy said Friday it pulled non-essential staff out of northern Iraq as a safety precaution, though operations are secured.

Genel said operations at the Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields in the Kurdish region of Iraq are safe from insurgent activity launched by Islamic State militants. Operations in the north are safe and the company said it had full confidence in the ability of the semiautonomous Kurdish government to keep things secure.

"In line with moves by other operators, we are taking the prudent and precautionary step of withdrawing non-essential personnel from our non-producing assets in the region," it said in a statement.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum, one of the more active players in the Kurdish north, said Thursday it was monitoring the security situation closely. U.S. company Chevron said it pulled some staff out of northern Iraq because of mounting security risks.

The Kurdish government this week said it deployed its military force, the Peshmerga, to respond to the terrorist threat. In a late Thursday announcement, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was following suit.

"To stop the advance on [the Kurdish capital] Erbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIS terrorist convoys should they move toward the city," he said in a statement.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday terrorist artillery sites near Erbil were struck by U.S. military aircraft.

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