[size=36]Iraq protests bring down government, not oil[/size]
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Iraq has witnessed two months of anti-power protests that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Saturday, and voted unanimously by the House of Representatives on Sunday, but the oil sector, which forms the backbone of the economy and remained surprisingly untouched by unrest.
Here is a glimpse of how the energy sector in OPEC's second-largest producer will succeed in overcoming the recent turmoil and what could affect global markets in the coming months.
- Did the protests affect Iraq's oil? -
The answer can be shortened in one word: hardly.
"All our stations, branches, reserves and transportation lines are working," Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban told reporters on Sunday.
Since October 1, sit-ins and protests calling for the "overthrow of the regime" have led to the closure of roads in the south of the country, including those leading to the oil fields of Nasiriyah, Gharaf and Soba.
Protesters also blocked roads leading to the port of Khazir al-Zubair in Basra, preventing staff from reaching their jobs.
But the fields and ports have night-time workers who have extended their shifts, so there was little impact on the work cycle, port officials and officials told AFP.
Officials and employees said the protests prevented the arrival of 30,000 barrels per day of heavy crude oil being transported from the northern Qayyarah field and exported from Khor al-Zubair.
But the few barrels transported by road make up a small share of the 3.6 million barrels that Iraq ships daily.
There was little change in exports, according to Oil Ministry figures, which recorded 3.4 million barrels per day in October and 3.5 million in November.
"It is difficult, but it is still very much under control," Ruba al-Husari of the Iraqi Oil Forum told AFP.
- Why the impact was weak? -
The main elements of Iraq's oil industry are three, oil-rich fields, major refineries and offshore export terminals in the country's territorial waters.
"The rate of exposure of these elements to external shutdowns is low," says El Hosary.
The oilfields in Iraq are stand-alone production sites and are reliant on transporting the vast majority of crude oil to export sites on pipelines rather than trucks.
"You can't be directly affected by the protests on the ground," says energy analyst Yes Redan, who works for oil tanker Clipper Data.
Oil refineries are mostly located in northern and western areas and are not affected by ongoing protests in the center and south of the country.
In addition to dealing with the Ministry of Oil, which prepared reserves of fuel products for domestic consumption and the role of the security forces in dispersing protests at oil fields and export ports.
While unions of teachers, doctors, engineers and other sectors have declared a strike over the past two months, oil workers have not joined them.
The exclusive, that "workers in the oil sector are the best paid compared to all ministries in Iraq."
This has made the material factor, playing a role in not risking their jobs, especially as the competition is great for jobs in this area and in state oil companies.
- What are the risks now? -
Exclusive says that the closures that took place outside the port of Khor Al-Zubayr lasted only two or three days at a time, but it can be "problematic" if it extends more.
Iraq has few storage facilities, and the accumulation of crude oil or fuel oil that cannot reach the port may impose a halt in processing.
Given Iraq's use of the Khor al-Zubayr port to import high-quality gasoline, a refined product that Iraq does not produce, long-term protests could lead to a shortage of gas stations or change in prices.
Especially in the event of another escalation, in the event of sit-ins inside a major oil field such as Rumaila or West Qurna, both southern Iraq, or the closure of streets leading to it.
"If they do this in one of the main fields to the point of enforcing the closure, then it will be very painful, but this is a long shot," she said.
- What will happen next? -
Iraq depends mainly on its oil exports, which constitute 90 percent of the country's budget, which means that any interruption in it will cut off the financial resources of the government.
This is likely to lead to a significant decline in the national economy, which remains relatively stable.
In addition, the large imbalance in Iraqi oil exports lead to an impact on the global oil market, being a major contributor to Iraq.
“A significant decline, if it continues, will have a significant impact on prices,” says Mr Reidan.
Iraq has already pledged to cut its crude oil production in line with OPEC's planned 1.2 million bpd cut.
Ghadhban told reporters that OPEC would meet on December 5 and 6 in Vienna to discuss another possible reduction.
He explained that "the wisdom prevailing today is to continue to reduce by 1.2 million barrels per day for next year, a decision committed by Iraq and there may be an additional reduction of up to 400 thousand barrels per day."