By John Lee.
Rudaw reports that Russia's Gazprom Neft has been forced to halt operations at its Halabja block following demonstrations by hundreds of protestors from 34 villages around the town of Darbandikhan.
According to the report, the protesters have given the oil company until 20th October to stop all exploration activity, claiming that “scientific evidence shows work conducted by this company is lethal and damages the environment, air, water wells and springs - and such changes are irreversible.”
They also demand that all oil companies leave the region and that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) drop its drive for independent oil exports, insisting that it should focus instead on tourism and agriculture.
Gazprom Neft is involved in three projects in the Region - Shakal, Garmian and Halabja - and estimated geological reserves for all three are more than 1.3 billion tonnes of oil. In the Halabja block, the company is conducting geological surveys.