Meanwhile, Kuwait oil workers go on strike, output plunges
Thousands of Kuwait’s oil workers began an open-ended strike on Sunday in protest at plans to cut their wages, action which saw the emirate’s crude production plunge. A spokesman for the Kuwait Oil Co (KOC), Saad al-Azemi, said on Twitter that “average production reached 1.1 million” barrels in Kuwait on Sunday. Daily production in OPEC’s fourth largest producer is normally around 3.0 million barrels per day. Azemi also said natural gas production was at 620 million cubic feet, down from Kuwait’s daily average of more than 1.3 billion cubic feet.
“Thousands of workers began their strike,” the oil workers union chief Saif al-Qahtani told AFP, adding that production had been partly halted but without clarifying which sites were affected. “Observed since 7 am (09:30 IST), this open-ended strike will continue until the workers’ demands are met,” Qahtani said. The cabinet strongly criticised the “unacceptable” strike, calling it a “clear violation of the law”, and demanded legal measures against those involved.
The government also urged Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) to mobilise the manpower needed to ensure continued production. On Saturday, the union had turned down an appeal from Kuwait’s acting oil minister, Anas al-Saleh, to call off the strike.
Hit by the sharp drop in crude prices on world markets, Kuwait is introducing a new payroll scheme for all public employees and wants to include the country’s 20,000 oil workers, which would mean an automatic cut in wages and incentives.