Iraq’s southern oil province of Basra is tense following violent incidents involving Western oil workers. This led oil services companies Baker Hughes and Schlumberger to scale back operations and evacuate foreign staff amid protests against a perceived slight to Shi’a Muslim sensitivities in the country’s Shi’a heartland. The deteriorating situation in the region highlights the growing threat both to the operations of international oil companies and to Iraq’s ambitious capacity expansion plans.

The violence, coupled with weather-related delays and two previously unreported attacks against a southern export pipeline this month, curtailed exports and output in November from the major Basra oil fields, including the 1.4mn b/d BP-operated Rumaila. BP, however, said the shutdown was unrelated to the attack targeting a worker at the Schlumberger camp at Rumaila on 11 November. (CONTINUED - 2194 WORDS)