BASRA, Iraq, Nov. 17 (UPI) — The Iraqi government is seeking to restore calm in the southern province of Basra, the country’s main oil production center, after hundreds of foreign oilmen were hastily evacuated amid violent protests by Iraqi oil workers. The evacuation, after rioters wrecked a camp used by Houston-based Schlumberger Inc., the world’s largest oilfield services company, came amid a worsening surge of sectarian warfare across Iraq that threatens to undermine a drive by the government to boost oil production to record levels and challenge Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil power. Until recently, the bloodletting, largely the work of Sunni extremists of al-Qaida against Iraq’s Shiite majority, had not seriously threatened the Basra oil fields, which produce around two-thirds of Iraq’s output. But in the last few weeks the Shiites around Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, have become targets, and any major escalation could impact […]