Rocket attack targets oil firms in eastern Iraq

Clay Curtis
June 20, 2019

There was no immediate claim of responsibility - but the blast comes two separate attacks in as many days on bases housing U.S. military personnel in Iraq, as tension rose between the United States and Iran.

A foreign security guard protects ExxonMobil's expatriate and Iraqi staff of the West Qurna-1 oilfield, which is operated by the companyl, during an opening ceremony near Basra, Iraq, June 17, 2019.

Attacks on energy facilities, including a Saudi Arabian pipeline and several oil tankers, as well as a USA military buildup are stoking fears that the Middle East may be heading toward another conflict. U.S. officials have pointed a finger at Iran, which has denied all accusations. The incident has not affected production, and follows recent attacks on oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. "A quite considerable ratcheting of tensions will be required to drive prices higher", according to BloombergNEF.

A rocket landed Wednesday on the edge of a compound housing staff from global oil giant ExxonMobil, wounding three people near Iraq's southern city of Basra - the latest in a string of attacks on US -linked targets in the region. Tehran denies it was involved. An employee at the facility said that three Iraqi staffers from a local drilling company were being treated in hospital for light wounds. "We've used them all to say 'hands-off, don't come after our forces, '" Selva said.

USA assets in Iraq have been targeted at least five times in as many days, officials said Wednesday, amid a tense standoff between Baghdad's key allies, Washington and Tehran.

An Exxon spokesman in Singapore wasn't immediately able to comment.

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In May, the USA evacuated nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq.

The rocket hit the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Basra, Iraqi police said.

ExxonMobil preemptively evacuated several dozen worldwide staff members from the nearby West Qurna oil field last month. The region is responsible for the bulk of Iraq's crude output.

Other companies operating at the site include Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Italy's Eni SpA, the oil officials said.

-With assistance from Dan Murtaugh and Abbas Al Lawati.

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