Reuters: Labor dispute hits Argentina’s biggest oil field

June 22, 2012 9:04 am0 commentsViews: 6

(Reuters) – Pan American Energy LLC has halted oil production at Argentina’s biggest field, Cerro Dragon, after about 500 workers took over some facilities there, a company source said on Thursday.

Cerro Dragon lies in the Patagonian province of Chubut and produces about 100,000 barrels of crude per day, or roughly 15 percent of total output in the country. Pan American, or PAE , is controlled by oil major BP.

The labor dispute over pay coincided with a nationwide fuel transportation strike that was lifted a day earlier than expected after a pay deal was reached.

The company source said workers occupied some facilities from early on Thursday, including the power station that supplies electricity to Cerro Dragon.

“There was a lot of damage done at the site. Pan American halted crude extraction as a security measure,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

“If the power station were to stop operating … that could threaten all of PAE’s production at Cerro Dragon and put at risk the provision of natural gas in nearby towns,” the source said, adding that some people were hurt when the workers stormed the site, including police, security guards and employees.

BP owns a 60 percent stake in PAE, while the remaining 40 percent is held by Bridas, which is half-owned in turn by China’s CNOOC.

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