Petronas workers join Iraq exodus

Iraq crisis: Evacuations follow increase in militant violence

Malaysia’s Petronas has become the latest foreign oil company to withdraw staff amid the upsurge in militant violence in the Middle Eastern country.

The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered explorer said it had evacuated 28 of its 166 staff to Dubai, including 18 Malaysian citizens.

It said that a further 43 employees were in the process of being “demobilised”.

The remaining 95 workers “who are categorised as critical personnel remain in Iraq to manage its operations and all are safe and accounted for”, Petronas added.

The company stressed it was in close contact with Malaysian state respresentatives on the ground and was watching the security situation closely as the situation develops.

The company has interests in four oil fields in Iraq - Garraf, Majnoon, Badra and Halfaya - which are located in the south and east of the country.

The recent increase in violence in Iraq has prompted some companies to start reducing staff in the oil-rich country amid fears that Sunni militants on the march in the north could strike major oilfields concentrated in the Shi'ite-controlled south.

On Tuesday reports emerged that BP, ExxonMobil and China National Petroleum Corporation had moved staff as a result of the violence.

Overnight reports from Germany suggested that eight technical staff from Siemens had been evacuated from the Baiji area of northern Iraq, where the country's biggest refinery is currently under attack from the militants.

The rebels have bombarded the facility with mortars and machine-gun fire, and were said to have gained control of 75% of the facility about 210 kilometres north of Baghdad, according to BBC reports.

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