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Bahrain, Oman Refineries Running as Planned Amid Demonstrations

Bahrain’s and Oman’s oil refineries continued to operate as planned amid anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf states, officials at the two nations’ fuel-processing plants said. Exports weren’t interrupted, they said.

Bahrain Petroleum Co., operator of the kingdom’s only refinery, is proceeding with planned maintenance during military curfews and police crackdowns in the island nation, three company officials said by telephone today. They asked not to be identified by name, citing company policy.

Three officials from Oman’s state-owned oil processor said its 85,000 barrel-a-day Mina al Fahal refinery in Muscat and the 116,400 barrel-a-day facility at the port of Sohar were both running at full capacity. The officials aren’t authorized to speak with media and asked not to be named.

Middle East states are being shaken by anti-government protests that have spread from Tunisia and Egypt over the last three months. Demonstrators in states including Bahrain and Oman have demanded more political representation, better pay and improved employment prospects.

Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency on March 15 after troops from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states arrived to support the kingdom’s Sunni monarch in suppressing demonstrations. In Oman protesters have occupied a traffic circle in the port city of Sohar. Citizens have also demonstrated at government buildings in the capital of Muscat.

A hydrocracker at Bahrain’s 267,000 barrel-a-day refinery is offline for maintenance through the end of this month, reducing capacity at the plant to 190,000 to 200,000 barrels a day, one of the officials said. Bapco, as the company is known, is receiving reduced oil flows through a pipeline from Saudi Arabia since it needs less crude, the official said.

About 90 percent of Bapco employees went on strike last week in response to a police crackdown on demonstrations and production “has really been affected,” Sayed Salman, the general secretary of Bahrain’s Federation of Trade Unions, said in an interview in Manama yesterday. About 80 percent of Bapco employees are now back at work and there have been no delays in the maintenance program, a refinery spokesman said today.

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