Argentine teachers strike hits Santa Cruz oil output

BUENOS AIRES, May 2 (Reuters) – Striking teachers blocked access roads at several oil fields in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province, halting operations at leading energy companies, union and company sources said on Monday.

Members of the Santa Cruz Teachers Association (ADOSAC) blocked roads linking the Patagonian towns of Las Heras and Pico Truncado, some 1500 miles (2,500 km) south of the capital, Buenos Aires, a source at Repsol YPF said.

The protest halted output at operations run by Repsol’s YPF (REP.MC: Quote)(YPFD.BA: Quote), China’s Sinopec Corp (0386.HK: Quote) and Pan American Energy, which is co-owned by Argentine and Chinese interests, the Repsol source said.

“The strike continues and we’re blocking routes to access oil fields until we get a new proposal,” said Monica Galvan, an ADOSAC leader, adding that teachers were demanding a 50-percent wage increase.

Argentine inflation is running at about 25 percent, according to private estimates.

Pay talks between the Santa Cruz teachers and the provincial government broke down when the teachers union rejected a 25-percent pay hike and called an indefinite strike on April 15, Galvan said.

The source at Repsol YPF said the company’s Pico Truncado oil separation plant was not operating and that all oil fields in the Las Heras area have been halted because of the teachers’ blockades.

However, the source said the stoppage had not yet caused shortages at refineries.

Santa Cruz produces nearly 20 pct of Argentine oil.

The protest by teachers comes a week after Argentine energy workers ended a 25-day-old pay strike that hit oil output and jeopardized fuel supplies in Argentina. [ID:nN26302313]

The strike, which also hampered natural gas output, cost the country about $300 million, hurting both national and provincial state coffers, an industry source said.

Provincial government officials and representatives of Pan American Energy and Sinopec were not immediately available for comment.

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