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Protesters gather at entrance to Iraq's Nahr Bin Omar oilfield

September 2, 2018 at 10:24 am

Iraqi’s come together to protest calling for better public services in Basra, Iraq

About 150 protesters gathered at the main entrance to Iraq’s giant Nahr Bin Omar oilfield in the southern oil hub of Basra on Sunday, police said, amid growing unrest in southern cities over poor public services and corruption.

Officials at the field, operated by state-run Basra Oil Co., said production operations were running normally.

Production from Nahr Bin Omar now stands at around 44,000 barrels per day, oilfield officials said.

On Friday, hundreds of Iraqi protesters stoned and tried to break into the provincial government headquarters in the southern oil hub of Basra demanding better public services and an end to pervasive corruption.

Protesters threatened to break into the field if the government did not respond to their demands to improve basic services and address their complaints over Basra’s drinking water, which residents say is undrinkable due to high salt levels.

“We will not allow the oilfield to operate unless we get clean water. No services, no jobs and now no clean water. We are fed up,” said Hassan Ali, a protest organiser.

Iraqi political blocs are attempting to form a coalition government after a May 12 parliamentary election tainted by allegations of fraud.

Oil exports from Basra account for more than 95 per cent of OPEC producer Iraq’s state revenues. Any potential disruptions to production could severely impact Iraq’s limping economy.

Other protesters gathered at a main road to the east of Basra leading to a border crossing with Iran, trying to prevent trucks from moving, custom and police officials said.