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Iraq’s Largest Oil Fields Threatened By Anti-Government Protests

Tsvetana Paraskova

Anti-government protests in Iraq continued on Monday, with protesters blocking roads leading to five oil fields in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, which is home to the biggest oil fields and the key oil export terminal in OPEC’s second-largest producer.

Protesters have blocked access to oil fields in the al-Zubair area west of the city of Basra, the Shafaq News outlet reports, citing an official security source.

The roads leading to the al-Shuaiba oil refinery, al-Barjasiya oil city, and the Rumaila area which hosts a major oil field were blocked on Monday by protesters who had set fire to tires, the security source told Shafaq News.

Protesters have also blocked the road outside the Nahr Bin Omar oilfield north of Basra and prevented employees at the field from going to work.

The roads leading to the ports of Khor Al-Zubair and Umm Qasr in the Basra province were also blocked, as were roads leading to fertilizer, cement, steel, and iron plants in the area.

Since the beginning of the protests in Iraq in early October, more than 320 people have died.

Protests have quickly spread from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra, where people are angry that the massive oil revenues the government is raking in don’t go towards improving basic services such as water and electricity. Protesters are also angry with endemic corruption and want the leaders, who do nothing for ordinary people, to resign.

Related: OPEC Output Soars As Venezuela Bounces Back From The Brink

Further escalation of the anti-government protests and potential blockades of oilfields and oil export terminals could disrupt oil supply from the second-biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia.  

One major concern about Iraq’s near-future oil production and exports is how the anti-government protests will develop and whether they will threaten oil output or export facilities.

Iraqi oil production and exports remain at stable levels, Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said in a statement a week ago, as carried by Reuters.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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