BAGHDAD – Production has resumed at an Iraqi oilfield after anti-government demonstrations forced a temporary halt, the country’s Ministry of Oil said on Monday.
On Sunday, protests blocked roads leading to the facilities of Iraq’s southern Nassiriya oilfield amid unrest that has gripped the country for almost three months.
Oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in a statement that protesters had unblocked roads, allowing employees to reach the oilfield and resume pumping operations.
The Nassiriya oilfield produces between 80,000-85,000 barrels a day and, according to the Iraqi government, provides more than 10,000 jobs to the people of Nassiriya city in the protest-hit province of Dhi Qar.
Assem said that this closure of the oilfield would not affect the total crude production as other fields in the south would compensate to meet the country’s output objectives.
Demonstrations in the south have repeatedly cut off access to oil facilities, claiming citizens have not benefited from the oil production of the country that has the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves.
Mass demonstrations broke out on Oct. 1 in different parts of the country to demand more basic services and protest corruption and unemployment.
More than 500 people have been killed in the rallies.
Abel Abdel Mahdi resigned last month as prime minister, bowing to pressure from the protests.
A constitutional deadline to pick a premier-designate expired last week amid a dispute among rival parliamentary blocs.
Iraqis were called to the marches on social media to express their outrage at the lack of work opportunities and generalized corruption, as well as to demand better medical, electric and water services.
Earlier this year, other rallies have occurred in Iraq over the same grievances, despite the government’s promises to deal with the ever-more-pressing economic problems.
Last year, there were also demonstrations in several Iraqi cities, particularly in Basra, against corruption, an endemic problem in the country since the Baath regime of Saddam Hussein controlled the country, although it was toppled in 2003 by US troops.