• Access to Lukoil oil field sites was blocked by protesters on 17 August
  • The protesters demanded jobs and voiced grievances about electricity shortages
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited the area the next day to reassure oil companies

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has visited the site of one of Iraq’s biggest oil and gas projects in an effort to reassure oil companies that operations will not be disrupted by protests.

“The situation is under control and the companies must not fear any threat,” Abadi said during a visit to the West Qurna-2 oil field in southern Iraq, according to a statement on his website.

“Some people stand against the progress of Iraq and place obstacles in its way, but we won’t allow them and will use all our capabilities to stop them and continue producing oil.”

On 17 August, protesters from the local area blocked some of the entrances to the West Qurna-2 oil field.

The protesters demanded jobs and voiced grievances about electricity shortages, according to an industry source close to the project.

“The protesters blocked the gates into the oil field preventing trucks and workers from entering,” said the source.

The protests meant that planned work on new wells could not be carried out, according to the source.

Production was not affected as the wells near the protest site are not yet commissioned, the source added.

The demonstrations prompted the state-controlled South Oil Company (SOC) to warn the Oil Ministry that protests in the area could disrupt production at some of the southern fields, including West Qurna-2.

“We explained in the report that if such undesired harassments to the foreign operators continue, oil production will definitely be affected,” a senior SOC source told the news agency Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The Russian oil company Lukoil is the operator of the West Qurna-2 oil field, which is the focus of a $2.5bn development project.

Operations at West Qurna-2 are continuing according to plan and oil production from the field stands at 450,000 barrels a day (b/d), according to a statement released by Lukoil on 19 August.

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