Oil firms begin to pull out staff from Iraq bases

Kate McCann
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OIL GIANTS ExxonMobil and BP have both begun evacuating staff from their operations in stricken Iraq, after intense fighting continued in the country yesterday. Royal Dutch Shell said it would monitor the situation and remove staff if security deteriorated.

Both Exxon and BP have taken expatriate staff from fields in the south of the country, amid concerns that fighters from the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, known as Isis, could target facilities in the region after fighting broke out at Iraq’s largest refinery, Baiji, overnight on Tuesday.

Brent crude oil briefly rose above $114 a barrel yesterday, after holding above $113 the day before. Some analysts fear the price could hit the $120 danger mark if fighting spread to the south of the country, a rise that would knock the global economic recovery.

Following a meeting of the National Security Council late yesterday, Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his warning that extremists returning from fighting with Isis in Syria and Iraq represented the biggest threat to UK national security.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said those suspected of terrorism abroad would be interviewed at the border when returning to the UK and could have their passports removed. He added that while military intervention was not on the table, the UK would continue to work with the US and Iran to promote stability in Iraq.

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