Argentine teachers lift blockade at YPF oil field

BUENOS AIRES, June 17 (Reuters) – Striking Argentine teachers lifted roadblocks that had forced energy company YPF (YPFD.BA: Quote)(REP.MC: Quote) to halt operations at an oil field for about seven weeks, a union leader said on Friday.

Inflation in Latin America’s No. 3 economy has been running at an annual rate of more than 20 percent, leading to strikes over wages, and the energy sector has been hard hit in recent months.

In early May, teachers demanding higher salaries started blocking access routes to energy fields in the southern province of Santa Cruz, which accounts for a fifth of Argentine crude output.

“Last night at midnight (0300 GMT), the decision was made to lift five roadblocks in the Las Heras area,” trade union leader Alejandro Leone told Reuters, adding that they lifted the protests to allow oil workers to return to their jobs.

He said, protest leaders were due to meet later on Friday to decide whether to continue other roadblocks that have forced energy companies to halt or cut output in their fields.

The teachers chose to block oil fields for greater media attention and to try to pressure the government to increase their salaries.

Oil production was been hurt by the protests, though specific tallies have not yet been reported.

The Argentine unit of Chinese energy firm Sinopec Corp (SNP.N: Quote).(0386.HK: Quote)(600028.SS: Quote) said, on Monday, it had stopped production at its oil fields in the Patagonian region, due to the unrest. [ID:nN13142264]

Argentina’s crude output fell by 19.1 percent in April from the same month last year to an average 79,836 cubic meters per day, while natural gas output dropped 5.3 percent to 120,410 cubic meters per day, according to the latest industry data.

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