Argentine teacher protests hits southern oil output

BUENOS AIRES, June 2 (Reuters) – Roadblock protests by striking Argentine teachers are causing increasing disruption to crude output at Patagonian oil fields operated by Argentina’s YPF (YPFD.BA), industry sources said on Thursday.

Teachers have been on strike for 40 days in the southern province of Santa Cruz, which accounts for a fifth of Argentine crude output, blocking access roads to energy fields and hitting production.

However, their protests have intensified this week, the sources and local media said.

“There are some limited operations. Everything’s blocked by the teachers and by parents. There are roadblocks on all the roads (so) it’s not easy to get to the oilfields, it’s a chaotic situation,” an industry source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“Things started to get tricky yesterday (Wednesday) but today all the fields are affected. We must be producing about 20 percent to 30 percent (of normal levels),” the source added.

A source at YPF, Argentina’s biggest energy producer and the local unit of Spain’s Repsol (REP.MC), said employees were having trouble getting to work.

No one at the teachers’ union could immediately be reached to comment. The strikers are demanding a wage increase of 50 percent.

Inflation running at an annual rate of more than 20 percent is fueling strike action in Latin America’s No. 3 economy this year, and the energy sector has been hard his in recent months.

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