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Iraqi protesters stop oil production in the field of Nasiriyah

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Production stopped at the Nasiriyah oil field in southern Iraq on Saturday after demonstrators against the government cut off access to it, according to what AFP and security sources have learned in the city.

It is the first time that production has stopped in an oilfield in Iraq since the unprecedented anti-government demonstrations began on October 1.

And the production of the field of Nasiriyah, located about 300 km south of Baghdad, usually reaches one hundred thousand barrels per day.

Production stopped on Saturday morning, when protesters cut off roads to the oilfield demanding jobs, according to police sources.

Local oil sources confirmed a halt to production, while experts felt that this would not have much impact on Iraqi production and exports if it did not last long.

The officials pointed out that the administrative buildings of the national company operating the field have been closed for fifty days in the context of the civil disobedience campaign that paralyzes a large part of southern Iraq.

Iraq has been witnessing an anti-government protest movement that has been going on for three months, concentrated in the capital Baghdad and several southern cities, where protesters are staging sit-ins targeting major roads and government infrastructure, including oil fields, in a country that is the second largest oil producer in OPEC.

And Iraq is the fifth largest oil exporter in the world, and exports about 3.4 million barrels per day from the port of Basra.

The Iraqi government depends almost entirely on oil revenues, which constitute 90 percent of the country’s budget, while analysts pointed out that any blow to exports may be “catastrophic” on the country.

Despite the vast oil wealth, one out of five people in Iraq lives below the poverty line, and the youth unemployment rate is 25 percent, according to the World Bank.

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