Local oil workers have blockaded the oil operations at the Sarsang block, operated by Texas oil firm HKN Energy in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, over non-payment of salaries.

“Contrary to inaccurate reports that appeared in the international media, the incident was not a serious security situation and at no time were any attempts made to take hostages,” says a statement from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Natural Resources Ministry.

The incident was caused by a labour dispute involving local workers who had not been paid since October last year. The workers asked HKN Energy to shut down operations until the dispute was resolved.

“The dispute was resolved peacefully. At no time were any of the personnel in the field harmed and no violence occurred,” says the statement.

HKN Energy could not be reached for comment.

HKN Energy holds a 75 per cent interest the licence area, while the US’ Marathon Oil holds the remaining 25 per cent. The partners are exploring the block and announced a significant light oil discovery with the Swara Tika-1 well in 2011.