World Bulletin / News Desk
“The protesters demand job opportunities in Al-Zubair oilfield” in western Basra, Police Lieutenant Abdul-Ghafour Mahmoud said.
Run by Italian drilling company Eni, Al-Zubair oilfield produces around 450,000 barrel per day.
Tensions have steadily mounted in Basra since last week when a demonstrator was killed by security forces while taking part in protests against high unemployment and chronic power outages. Ever since, protests have spread to several other provinces, including the capital Baghdad.
At least five people have been killed and dozens injured in the protests.
Roughly 80 percent of Iraq’s crude oil exports originate from oilfields in Basra province.
For years, Basra residents have complained that foreign nationals, rather than locals, were being employed by the domestic energy sector.
They also complain of frequent power outages amid summer temperatures that often reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).