Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi paid a visit to Lukoil’s super giant West Qurna-2 field on Tuesday as protestors threaten to disrupt production.
Last week, Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) sent the country’s oil ministry a report asking it to help quell protests by local residents near some of the country’s southern oil fields, Reuters said.
“We explained in the report that if such undesired harassments to the foreign operators continue, oil production will definitely be affected,” an anonymous senior SOC source told the news wire.
Hundreds of local residents demanding jobs have blocked some entrances to West-Qurna 2.
“Despite Lukoil’s ongoing initiatives to hire more laborers from nearby areas, things have got out of control. Someone who is asking for a job as a cleaner one day comes back asking for a thousand dollar-contract the next,” the SOC official told Reuters.
After meeting with Lukoil officials, Prime Minister Abadi toured nearby villages where many of the protestors reside.
According to Russia-based Lukoil, an estimated 70,000 people live in the contract area that holds the West-Qurna 2 field, and another 300,000 people live in the adjacent area.
“Some people stand against the progress of Iraq and place obstacles in its way, but we won’t allow them and will use all our capabilities to stop them and continue producing oil,” Abadi said.
The field is currently operating normally and producing about 450,000 barrels per day.
However, a Lukoil official told Reuters that production could be disrupted if the protest situation continues.
West Qurna-2 is located in southern Iraq, 40 miles northwest of the major port city of Basra.
The size of the current contract area is over 115 square miles, according to Russia’s Lukoil.
Commercial production at the field began in March 2014 at the target level of 120,000 barrels per day.
Lukoil holds a 75 percent stake in the field.
Iraq’s Northern Oil Company holds a 25 percent stake.
The South Oil Company is also a participating member of the consortium on behalf of Iraq.