CHEVRON CUTS PERSONNEL
U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. said it has cut the numbers of its overseas staff working in the Kurdish region of Iraq as the militant group Islamic State pushed their offensive closer to the area, and amid reports of a car bomb blast in the nearby northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Chevron's move comes as shares in Kurdistan-focused oil producers listed in Europe plunged on Thursday.
"We are closely monitoring the situation," a Chevron spokeswoman in London said. "We have reviewed the business critical positions and as a consequence made a reduction in the total numbers of expatriates in the region."
Exxon Mobil is also evacuating staff from Kurdistan, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an industry source. A spokesman for the company said it doesn't comment on security matters.
Shares in London-listed Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd fell as much as 13%—to their lowest level since 2010—after the Islamic State captured two towns close to the border of the semiautonomous region following the withdrawal of the Kurdish regional forces guarding them.
The Islamic State's capture of Qara Qosh, east of Mosul, earlier Thursday puts the group less than 40 miles from the province of Erbil, where the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government is located.
Gulf Keystone, which is producing oil from the Shaikan field in Kurdistan, said while its operations remain "safe and secure" it has stepped up security at its facilities.
"While there is no immediate threat to any of the company's operations in the region, we continue to monitor the situation closely and operate with increased security as a precaution," the statement said.
Shares in Genel Energy PLC, which is headed by former BP PLC boss Tony Hayward, fell as much as 6.7%.
Genel, one of the biggest independent oil producers in Kurdistan, said its operations remain "safe and secure." Its oil fields at Taq Taq are over 60 miles away from the fighting east of Mosul.
"There has been no change to our operations," Genel said in a statement.
Shares in Norway's DNO, another Kurdistan-focused oil explorer, fell 6.8% Thursday, meaning they have lost over 18% of their value this month. The company wasn't immediately available for comment.
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