(SRI) - Karazhanbasmunai, a Kazakh-Chinese joint venture developing the Karazhanbas oil field in western Kazakhstan, said on Thursday its production losses resulting from a long-lasting strike amounted to 17,578 tonnes.

 

"An illegal [strike] lasting three months has caused the suspension and disconnection of production facilities, directly impacting operations," the Kazakhstan-Novosti news agency quoted a statement released by Karazhanbasmunai on Thursday. "As a result of the protests, total loss of oil output in the period from May 17 to July 31 totaled 17,578 tonnes."

The strike has begun on May 17, as Kazakh workers protested poor working conditions and low salaries, especially compared to expat workers. The oil company called the strike illegal, a claim which was confirmed by a local court.

Despite firing hundreds of workers participating in the protest actions, a small number of protesters still remain on strike, the company said. However, oil production has recovered since the strike began to 5,500 tonnes per day from 5,105 tonnes per day as of the end of May.

The company said its production was also affected by power outages in August when local energy company MAEK-Kazatomprom shut off electricity supply to Karazhanbasmunai facilities for three days, Kazakhstan-Novosti reported. The oil company did not provide a reason for the shutoff.

In total, Karazhanbasmunai extracted 1.3 million tonnes of crude oil in January through August 2011, it said.

Karazhanbasmunai is a Kazakh-Chinese joint venture between CITIC, China's biggest state-owned investment company, and KMG EP, the upstream subsidiary of the national oil and gas company KazMunaiGas.