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Oil Workers Join Iran Protests As Authorities Intensify Crackdowns

Oil workers have joined the anti-government protests in Iran, which have entered their fourth week following the death of Mahsa Amini

Anger flared in several Kurdish cities after the 22-year-old Iranian-Kurds died on September 16, just three days after she was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress code for women.

Whereas university students have played a major role in the protests with dozens of universities going on strike, unconfirmed reports have revealed that workers at Abadan and Kangan oil refineries as well as the Bushehr Petrochemical Project have also joined in. 

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The Iranian government has blamed the protests on Iran’s enemies including the United States, saying it’s a ploy run by armed dissidents--among others--in which 185 people, including 19 minors and 20 members of the security forces have been reported killed. 

Protesters have continued to brave the harsh crackdown by security forces, burning pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling for the downfall of the clerical establishment and chanting "Death to the Dictator."  Iranian authorities have, however, denied that the protests are in any way related to nuclear talks.

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Prospects of reviving the Iran nuclear deal have swung dramatically, from near certain in March to almost nil currently, with talks hitting yet another stalemate in September. Meanwhile, exchanges on a compromise text are still falling short of satisfying all the involved parties. A successful nuclear deal could change the oil markets, with Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh saying that his biggest dream has always been to increase Iran’s oil output to six million barrels per day; earn $2 trillion through oil exports over the next two decades and use the income to invest in the country’s development. 

Such a level of production would cause considerable jitters in the delicately balanced oil markets. However, the overall balance might not change much, with tanker tracker sources--which rely on satellite imagery to follow global oil shipments--suggesting that Iran’s oil exports are already fairly high to countries like China, meaning we may not see a huge increase even if sanctions are lifted.

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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