Customs strike halts Kuwait oil shipments
Kuwait, October 10, 2011
All vessel traffic in and out of Kuwaiti ports is halted and oil tanker traffic has stopped on Monday as Kuwait customs union went on a strike, two shipping sources based in Kuwait said.
'All vessel movements in and out of Kuwaiti ports are suspended,' a shipping source said, adding that at least five oil tankers were waiting to depart from Mina Al Ahmadi port, which handles the bulk of Kuwait's oil exports.
Kuwait is among the world's top crude oil exporters with biggest customers mostly from Asia. It has a 930,000 barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity.
'No vessel, oil tanker or bulk carrier, can depart without customers clearance. They can't enter Kuwait either,' a second shipping source said.
The country has two commercial ports, Shuwaikh and Shuaiba, and two other oil terminals, apart from the largest Mina Al Ahmadi, which is also home to its biggest refinery.
Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC) is trying to secure staff not taking part in the strike, in order to complete clearance documents for the shipments, an oil official said.
The customs union pledged to continue the strike as long as its demands are met. 'Any commercial shipment, coming via air, land or sea has been suspended... the strike will continue until our demands are met,' Ahmed Al-Enezi, the head of Kuwait's customs union told Reuters.
Kuwait is currently witnessing a wave of strikes by many government employees, after the cabinet approved last month better employment conditions for oil sector workers.
'The strike will affect clearance at the airport and land customs, as well as the border between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,' courier service DHL said in an emailed statement to its clients in Kuwait.
'Exports from Kuwait will also be affected, and only conveyable non-documents and documents that can be transferred via passenger channels at the airport will be able to move,' DHL added. - Reuters