* Locals protest at Iraq giant oilfield
* Protesters seek jobs, work benefits
By Aref Mohammed
BASRA, Iraq, April 16 Hundreds of local
protesters blocked a main entrance of Iraq's giant southern West
Qurna-2 oilfield on Tuesday, operated by Russia's LUKOIL,
demanding jobs in a sign of the growing challenges facing
foreign firms operating in the south.
Local communities and tribes in Iraq, where foreign oil
companies are developing the OPEC nation's vast energy reserves,
periodically protest to squeeze companies for jobs and other
Around 500 angry protesters gathered at the main entrance,
demanding Lukoil supply jobs and compensation for land where it
operates. Police said the situation was under control and
demonstrators did not try to break into the field.
"We are protesting to get our rights. We have decided to
block the entrance until field officials address our demands,"
said Mizhir al-Rwemi, a spokesman for protesters.
An official at the state-run South Oil Company said it was
not the first such protest. "We are trying to deal discretely
with them," the official said.
Iraqi oil police officials said security measures were
tightened around the oilfield to prevent protesters from getting
inside where employees, including from Russia's Lukoil were
working on developments operations.
Hundreds of protesters broke into West Qurna-2 oilfield
early last month, smashing offices of an Iraqi company hired by
Samsung Engineering before trying to break into the
South Korean builder's headquarters.
More than 1,000 employees from the South Oil Co. also
demonstrated to demand higher salaries and permanent contracts
with the company, officials and protesters said.
Ten years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein,
Iraq's energy installations are still struggle with various
challenges, including attacks on oil pipelines and facilities.
Earlier this month, Gunmen attacked a contracting company in
Iraq's Akkas gasfield, killing at least three local workers and
kidnapping two more before burning their camp in the remote
(Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Patrick Markey and