Iraq’s Ministry of Oil spokesman, Asim Jihad, claims that the country’s oil production is safe despite the ongoing protests throughout the nation. The civil unrest has gotten particularly bad in Basra, where the majority of Iraq’s oil fields are located. Asim Jihad told reporters that, “Production and exports from southern Iraq are stable as per normal levels,” and that the protests have not slowed exportation. He added that private security companies and the Ministry’s Oil Police had been deployed to the oil fields to boost security.
The protesting has escalated drastically in Basra, Iraq’s southernmost port city that deals with trade from Iran and Kuwait. Over the past week, protesters have become increasingly aggressive. They have blocked the roads leading to the oil fields and seized control of the border crossing point into Iran. The protesters are demanding that the government provide basic needs like clean water, electricity, and job opportunities. With temperatures in the region rising to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year, the water shortages paired with prolonged power outages have created harsh living conditions for Iraq’s citizens.
The central Iraqi government has been on the fringe as of late, still reeling from large-scale allegations of fraudulent electoral practices and rigged voting. With Iran and Turkey drastically stemming the flow of fresh water into Iraq, a water crisis is on hand as Summer kicks into full swing. Pair that with the nightmare that is the Iraqi power grid, and you have a real mess. A pledge of $3 billion towards infrastructure repair along with a promise of 10,000 new jobs has been made by the government to calm the situation, but it has had little effect. Iraq is one of the world’s biggest crude oil producers, exporting nearly 4.5 million barrels per day (BPD).
Featured image courtesy of the author.