December 30, 2019

Iraq Resumes Oil Output at Field Halted by Protesters
(Bloomberg) -- Iraq resumed pumping at the Nasiriya Oil field a day after protesters forced it to halt operations, the government said, as widespread unrest starts to take a toll on the country’s most important industry.Employees returned to work at the field in southern Iraq after authorities cleared away protesters who had cut roads to the area, Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said Monday in a statement. OPEC’s second-biggest producer maintained its overall output level during the halt by pumping more oil at its Basra fields to offset the loss of about 80,000 to 85,000 barrels a day from Nasiriya, Jihad said earlier.Nasiriya’s oil refinery, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the field, also restarted after shutting down on Sunday when about 700 protesters blocked worker access to the plant, according to a person familiar with the operations. The refinery in the southern province of Thiqar processes crude into gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene sold mostly in the province. All three of its units are back on line, the person said, asking not to be identified due to the matter’s sensitivity.Protesters -- most of them unemployed and some of them recent graduates -- have rallied repeatedly over the past two months near southern oil fields and refineries, though Nasiriya was the first field to be closed due to the disturbances. Iraq is the largest producer, after Saudi Arabia, in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It pumps most its oil at deposits in the south, exporting cargoes by sea through the Persian Gulf.Iraq’s oil production is in line with limits set by OPEC and the group’s global allies, Jihad said. The so-called OPEC+ coalition has decided to reduce its collective output until the end of March in an effort to balance the market and prop up crude prices.Around 500 people have died and more than 22,000 others have been wounded in clashes between security forces and protesters since Oct. 1. Iraqis, mostly from the Shiite majority population, are protesting against government corruption, poor services, and wide-ranging Iranian political influence, calling for an overhaul of the ruling class.(Updates with refinery restarting in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Salma El Wardany.To contact the reporter on this story: Khalid Al-Ansary in Baghdad at kalansary@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bruce Stanley at bstanley5@bloomberg.net, James HerronFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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