Wildcat strikes spread in Iraq as BP lifts first oil cargo

Iraqi state oil workers tried to stop foreign workers entering the site at Rumaila, the country’s biggest oil field amid a country-wide dispute about pay. The state workers have been protesting for some time about receiving lower pay than their colleagues at fields run by the international oil companies.

According to the Iraq Oil Report, an internal union memo said workers would also try to stop entry of foreign workers at Zubair, developed by ENI, and Majnoon, developed by Royal Dutch Shell, as part of a “boycott day”. The workers are risking arrest, since unions and striking are illegal in the country.

A BP spokesman said any industrial action had no impact on operations.

Sabotage of pipelines and strikes in Iraq’s oil industry are common, despite success among the foreign oil majors in increasing production.

On Tuesday, BP lifted its first cargo of Basra light crude from Rumaila, worth about $200m (£123m). It is working with China National Petroleum Corporation on the field and the two companies are due $1bn for boosting production, drilling new wells and improving operations over the past year.

They have managed to increase production at Rumaila by 10pc more than expected. After a year of work, output is now running at about 1.2m barrels per day – 100,000 barrels ahead of the earlier output.

Rumaila once produced 1.6m barrels, but it has been neglected during years of war and sanctions.

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