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Iraq oil minister says deal with Exxon close, slowed by evacuation

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban speaks to the media at the ministry's headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily/File Photo

JEDDAH (Reuters) - A major oil deal between Iraq and Exxon Mobil was "very close" but had been slowed by Exxon's decision on Saturday to evacuate its international staff from the West Qurna oil field, Iraq's Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Sunday.

"Had we concluded we would have signed a heads of agreement," he said, referring to a preliminary document that would set out terms of cooperation on the South Integrated Project. "But now they are out of the country, why should I run after them?" he said at an oil meeting in Jeddah.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin in Jeddah; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Peter Graff)