OMV staff in 'Kurdistan exit'

Precautionary move: OMV chief Gerhard Roiss

Austrian player OMV is reported to have pulled all of its staff out of Kurdistan as it joins an exodus by foreign oil companies from the northern Iraqi region due to the perceived threat of Islamic State (IS) militants to exploration and production operations.

"We were able to book a gas find in Kurdistan but are not active at the moment. All the staff that were there have left," OMV chief executive Gerhard Roiss was quoted as saying by Austria’s WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper on Friday.

The company has been looking to exploit its operated Bina Bawi oil discovery in Kurdistan, having submitted a declaration of commerciality last year.

OMV is also a partner in the Pearl Petroleum joint venture, led by Abu Dhabi-based Dana Gas, that operates the Khor Mor and Chemchemal gas fields in the semi-autonomous region.

Major producer Genel Energy, which operates the Taq Taq field, has already pulled out non-essential staff from Kurdistan following similar moves by heavyweights Chevron and ExxonMobil, while Petroceltic and Afren have suspended operations in the region.

It follows the advance of IS terrorists who were reported to be approaching the Kurdish capital Erbil, having captured vast swathes of northern Iraq and taking control of several oilfields.

The US has been carrying out air strikes to support Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces seeking to repel the insurgents.

Meanwhile, Roiss said the company is re-evaluating its participation in Crimea following the annexation of the former Ukrainian province by Russia, which has triggered Western sanctions against the Kremlin.

"We are also waiting and seeing (what happens) south of Crimea, where we had plans together with ExxonMobil,” he told the newspaper.

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