• Protests on 17 August blocked some of the entrances to the West Qurna-2 field
  • Tensions are likely to continue
  • Lukoil does not expect any major problems or disruptions

Russia’s second-largest oil company, Lukoil, is planning to continue its dialogue with local communities in the Basra region of Iraq in the wake of demonstrations in August.

The firm is looking to reduce future disruptions from disgruntled locals.

“The issue with local communities requesting more jobs is likely to remain a constant factor, but we don’t expect any major problems or disruptions,” says a spokesperson for Lukoil. “We have been engaged in dialogue with all of the tribes that live around the West Qurna-2 project and currently have good relations with all the tribal leaders in the area.”

Lukoil’s comments come after small protests by local people demanding jobs took place on 17 August, blocking some of the entrances to the West Qurna-2 oil field.

The number of workers employed on the project peaked in 2013-14 at between 10,000 and 11,000, during major construction works ahead of the oil field’s launch, in March 2014.

About two-thirds of these workers were Iraqi nationals.

Since March 2014, the number of workers employed at the site has declined, increasing tensions in the region, which already has high unemployment.

“It’s a complex issue,” says the spokesperson. “More than 70,000 people live near the West Qurna-2 site and they belong to more than 20 different tribes.”

In order to minimise tensions between the tribes and the oil company, a quota system has been introduced to ensure jobs are distributed fairly.

Lukoil also opened a training centre in the area in 2012 in order to train Iraqi workers to a level where they can take on skilled jobs at West Qurna-2.

So far, about 400 Iraqis have passed through this training facility.

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