BP and Exxon are reportedly pulling foreign staff from Iraq.

Sunni militants from the north are sweeping toward major oilfields in the Shi’ite south and are threatening the central rule of the government in Baghdad.

“Iraqi officials say the southern regions that produce some 90% of the country’s oil are completely safe from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has seized much of the north in a week as Baghdad’s forces there collapsed,” the Financial Post said.

The government said 100,000 police dedicated to protecting oil facilities are on high alert and well armed.

Iraq produces about 3.4 million bpd and is OPEC’s second biggest producer.

“We are just very vigilant in Iraq. Non-essential production people have left, but operations continue,” said Bob Dudley, chief executive at BP, a major investor in Iraq through the giant Rumaila field.

He was speaking to reporters in Moscow.

Along with its partner, the China National Petroleum Company, BP won the right in 2009 June to rehabilitate the super-giant oilfield near Basra.

Rumaila produces more than 1 million barrels of oil a day (b/d).

Industry newsletter Iraq Oil Report said Exxon Mobil, which is developing another huge field, West Qurna 1, was also cutting staffing levels.

Exxon declined comment, the Financial Post said.


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