Exxon’s foreign staff to return to Iraqi oilfield with extra security

Iraqi soldiers keep guard at the entrance of the West Qurna-1 oilfield operated by Exxon Mobil near Basra, Iraq, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 31 May 2019

Exxon’s foreign staff to return to Iraqi oilfield with extra security

  • Exxon asked for extra security from the police and army at work sites and residences and Iraq agreed, the officials said
  • The company is the lead contractor in a long-term deal with Iraq’s South Oil Company to develop and rehabilitate the oil field and increase production

BASRA: Exxon Mobil employees will start returning to Iraq’s West Qurna 1 oilfield on Sunday after the government agreed to provide extra security, two senior Iraqi oil officials told Reuters on Friday.
Senior company management and essential engineers would be among the first employees to return, the Iraqi officials said, two weeks after Exxon pulled its 60 or so foreign staff from the oilfield and flew them to Dubai.
The evacuation came just days after the United States withdrew non-essential staff from its embassy in Baghdad, citing a threat from neighboring Iran.
Exxon asked for extra security from the police and army at work sites and residences and Iraq agreed, the officials said. The company has received letters of assurance from the Iraqi oil ministry and Basra Oil Company.
Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban at the time called the evacuation “unacceptable and unjustified,” saying it was a political move, rather than borne out of genuine security concerns. He said he had sent a letter to Exxon Mobil after the staff left asking for the company to immediately return to work at the southern oilfield.
Exxon Mobil is the lead contractor in a long-term deal with Iraq’s South Oil Company to develop and rehabilitate the oil field and increase production.
Production was not affected by the evacuation and work continued normally, overseen by Iraqi engineers, Iraqi officials said at the time. Production remained at 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Iraqi officials later said they would increase it to 490,000 bpd shortly.


Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

Updated 10 December 2019

Sudan’s deposed Bashir questioned over 1989 coup: lawyer

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s former president Omar Al-Bashir appeared on Tuesday before a prosecutors’ committee over the 1989 coup that brought him to power, his lawyer said.
Bashir was “brought to be investigated in the case of the alleged 1989 coup,” said his lawyer, Mohamed Al-Hassan, who did not attend the hearing.
The lawyer also told reporters that in his view the hearing was “not a judicial matter, it’s a political matter.”
In 1989, Bashir, a brigadier at the time, seized power in an Islamist-backed coup that toppled the elected government of prime minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi.
The former president was himself ousted by the army in April of this year after months of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
On November 12, Sudanese authorities filed charges against Bashir and some of his aides for “plotting” the 1989 coup. The prosecution established a special committee for the case.
If found guilty, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment under Sudanese law.
Sudan is now ruled by a joint civilian and military sovereign council, which is tasked with overseeing a transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.
Bashir is being held in Kober prison in a separate case, for which he has been on trial since August, on charges of illegally acquiring and using foreign funds.
A verdict is due in that case on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Bashir was taken from Kober prison to the prosecutor’s office in a convoy under strong armed protection.
After the hearing, which lasted about an hour, a crowd gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office, chanting “Kober prison — the best place for you!” and “you killed people!“
Wearing the traditional white Sudanese jalabiya and turban, Bashir raised his hands to the crowd, before he set off back toward Kober in the convoy.
The veteran leader is also wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the war in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
To date, Sudanese transitional authorities do not want to extradite the former leader to The Hague.