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Iraqi oil workers threaten Rumaila strike action

Union official says BP-led consortium should not be exploiting field

The Rumaila oilfield in Iraq. (Getty Images)
The Rumaila oilfield in Iraq. (Getty Images)

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A trade union official in Iraq has said that his representatives in the state-owned Southern Oil Company (SOC) could go on strike in attempt to jeopardise the exploitation of the super giant Rumaila field by a consortium led by British supermajor BP.

News agency AFP reported that Ali Abbas warned that production from the 17.7 billion barrel could be disrupted.

"If those companies try to exploit the field, our first reaction will be to stage a sit-in and to strike," Abbas is reported by AFP as saying.

The 17 billion barrels Rumaila field lies along Iraq’s border with Kuwait and has a current output of between 950,000-980,000 barrels per day (bpd). The target output for the field is 1.75 million bpd.

A 20-year service contract for the field was awarded to BP and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) during the Iraq oil auction that took place on June 30 and July 1. The consortium will be paid US$2 for every extra barrel it produces over an agreed minimum.

The union fears that the consortium taking over production duties will lead to a wave of redundancies and an influx of foreign workers.

However, a spokesman from Iraq’s Oil Ministry hit back at the claims.

"The contracts that the ministry [of oil] wants are service contracts which allow only 10 to 15 percent of employees [on the fields] to be foreigners," Assem Jihad is reported by  AFP as saying. "The remainder will be Iraqis."

 

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