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Iraqi Oil Field Resumes Production As Protests Subside

The Al Ahdab oil field in Iraq has resumed oil production after a week’s suspension that followed protests from security guards at the field, Bloomberg reports. Production has resumed at full capacity of 70,000 bpd.

Al Ahdab is operated by China’s CNPC, but it was blockaded last week by security guards who are protesting against the absence of permanent employment contracts. There was also another field at risk of closure in the vicinity, Badra, which produces about 50,000 bpd. Russia’s Gazprom Neft is the operator of that field.

Now the Iraqi authorities have agreed to provide the Al Ahdab security guards with permanent employment contracts and the protesters have lifted the blockade of the field.

Economic protests began in Iraq last October and have since then escalated into anti-government demonstrations. According to Bloomberg, as many as 600 people have died during the demonstrations, which have regularly led to clashes with security forces.

The protests shut down another oil field twice in less than a month. The Nassiriya field, in southern Iraq, was first shut down in December and then earlier this month as protesters demanded jobs, the Iraq Oil Report wrote. Nassiriya produces some 80,000 bpd.

So far, the effect of the protests on oil production in OPEC’s number-two exporter has been temporary. In December, the country pumped 4.65 million bpd. However, its production expansion plans have been put at risk by the protests as the foreign companies that would be responsible for them have started pulling their personnel out of the country.

In more bad oil news, BP dropped its plans to expand production from the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq after exploration results fell short of expectations.

On the flip side, Baghdad announced plans to resume production at four oil fields in northern Iraq, in the Nineveh governorate. These fields were destroyed by the Islamic State, which used to control these territories before the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces drove it out.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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