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baiji refinery fire

Iraqi oil refinery in flames (VIDEO)

Marissa Hall | Shale Plays Media

The conflict in northern Iraq has escalated quickly in the past week as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to antagonize the region. Concern has risen high enough for BP to evacuate 20% of its employees at this point and Exxon has evacuated all of its employees. ISIL has taken a refinery in Baiji, and the AP obtained footage of black plumes of smoke rising from the site.

Many countries have expressed apprehension at the instability in Iraq. Obama has stated that he will not be sending troops into the country to stabilize the situation, but is in talks with Iran in hopes of finding an alternative approach. The volatility of the region is also causing mounting concern for the oil industry, with a variety of rippling effects. At present, stocks for energy companies based in the U.S. are actually rising because those companies look stable in comparison. However, some also project that the conflict could cause oil prices to reach $200 a barrel.

Related: Exxon carries out major evacuation from Iraq-oil official

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