Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said Wednesday that if oil workers carry out a threat to go on strike, the OPEC member has a contingency plan to ensure that production is not disrupted.
The oil workers union has threatened to strike after national conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) reduced the annual bonus paid to workers.
“We will not wait for too long, and if the oil trade unions do not call off the strike (threat) by the beginning of next week, we will take all measures to protect our employees and installations,” the minister told reporters outside parliament.
“We will seek the assistance of all state agencies, including the national guard, interior ministry” and other ministries, the minister said.
If the workers do act, “we have employees… to operate refineries and production lines for Kuwait to meet its commitments internally and abroad,” the minister said.
Kuwait is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter.
It pumps around 3.0 million barrels per day, of which at least 2.6 million bpd are exported in the form of crude oil and petroleum products.
Kuwait has three refineries with a total capacity of 930,000 bpd, two thirds of which are exported.
Omair insisted that the oil workers are paid well and that the decision to reduce the annual bonus was taken in a bid to make the payment proportional to the size of operational profits.
The Kuwaiti oil sector employes over 19,000 nationals.
The head of the Kuwait Oil Workers Union, Abdulaziz al-Sharthan, said last week the union decided to go on strike within two weeks and he was authorised to announce the date.
The union said on Twitter Wednesday that it had not yet set a date and it will announce it soon.
Sharthan said the average wages of Kuwaiti oil workers are only half those of counterparts in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.