Amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran and reports of a nixed plan to strike Iran following the downing this week of a U.S. drone, business in neighboring Iraq is reportedly being hampered.
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Specifically, a $53 billion deal ExxonMobil was pursuing in the country is now indefinitely on hold, Iraqi government officials told Reuters.
The project, part of a larger goal to expand work in the country, was geared toward increasing oil output in Iraq’s southern fields.
However, tensions with Iran — along with contractual issues — have reportedly stalled the deal. The contractual issues stem from how Exxon planned to recoup development costs by sharing oil produced by two fields. That has been opposed by Iraq, which argued the move would violate the country’s ownership of oil production.
The deal has also been hurt by two different evacuations of Exxon employees from the country.
Hundreds of U.S. embassy employees were evacuated last month following unspecified security threats from Iran. Earlier this week, a rocket attack seemingly targeting Exxon Mobile in the country was blamed on militias supported by Iran.
“ExxonMobil has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities,” a spokesperson for the company told FOX Business earlier this week. “We are committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all of our facilities around the world.”
An Iraqi intelligence official said 40 workers were evacuated from an oil-drilling site following the rocket attack, according to The Associated Press. The ExxonMobil spokesperson said it was company practice not to comment on staffing at its facilities.
A rocket struck the facility — located in Iraq’s Basra province — on Wednesday, where Royal Dutch Shell and Italian Eni SpA also have operations.
Issues with the Exxon Mobile deal come amid increasing concerns over Iran. The Trump administration made a last-minute decision to call off retaliatory strikes against Iran in response to a Navy drone being shot out of the sky Thursday over the Strait of Hormuz — what Washington said was international airspace, a source told Fox News on Friday.
Trump on Friday morning pointed to the potential for 150 deaths as the reason for backing off the strike.
Fox Business’ Brittany De Lea, Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Lucas Tomlinson and Reuters contributed to this report.