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 Workers of South Oil Company (SOC) adjust a valve at the Rumaila oil field in Basra Province May 24, 2010. The initial development plan agreed by Exxon Mobil and its partners for Iraq's West Qurna Phase One oilfield includes drilling eight new wells and overhauling up to 50 wells this year to boost output, an Iraqi oil official said on Monday. International oil service firms will be invited to drill four new wells and state-run Iraqi Drilling Company is working on the remaining four to increase production beyond current output of 225,000 barrels per day (bpd), said Bassem Abdul Karim, head of the Operation Department in the SOC. REUTERS/Atef Hassan (IRAQ - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS)

Militant surge threatens Iraqi fields

International oil companies moved to reduce expatriate staff in Iraq amid fears that fighting raging between Sunni militants and the Shia-led Iraqi government could soon spread to the main oil producing hub of the southern Basra region.