Angry Protesters in Basra Storm Headquarters of ‘Lukoil’

Friday, 13 July, 2018 - 10:00
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa

Mass demonstrations that have been ongoing in Basra developed on Thursday into sit-ins and threats to storm public institutions and official departments.

Protesters have been demanding services such as electricity and job opportunities for those unemployed in the province.

The demonstrators, some of whom raised sectarian slogans against workers in the oil fields in Basra, carried out what they have been threatening to do when they stormed the headquarters of Basra’s West Qurna 2 oilfield.

Run by Russian energy giant Lukoil, West Qurna 2, which is one of Iraq’s largest oilfields, currently produces roughly 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Activists on social media circulated pictures of the company's employees in panic and fear.

The workers of the firm packed their belongings, and many of them were evacuated by helicopters while security forces fired live bullets in the air to disperse the demonstrators, causing injuries.

The Iraqi cabinet has formed a government delegation under the leadership of the minister of oil and the membership of the ministers of reconstruction, housing, municipalities, public works, electricity, water resources and transport, the prime minister's advisers, the general secretariat of the cabinet and the crisis cell in order to find urgent solutions to the problems facing the province.

Meanwhile, Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi issued an order to find jobs for 250 of Basra's residents.

“The appointments will be in the oil fields, under the supervision of the District Commissioner of the judiciary,” Luaibi said in a statement.

He added that job opportunities will be provided to the relatives of those killed during the demonstrations in Basra last Sunday.

Luaibi also stressed the importance of not attacking oil installations during the demonstrations because “the economy of the country is based on oil wealth."

He said that since taking office, he has reduced the number of foreign workers by up to 50 percent.

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