Dozens Injured When Brawl Erupts During Worker Protest At Kazakh Oil Field

NUR-SULTAN -- Dozens of workers at a major oil and gas project in western Kazakhstan were injured when a brawl broke out between foreign and local employees.

Videos and photos that circulated on social mediashowed hundreds of workers in hard hats and uniforms massing around midday June 29 at a site near the Tengiz oil field, one of Kazakhstan’s largest.

One worker told RFE/RL that the fight was sparked by a photograph which was shared among foreign workers and was considered offensive by local Kazakh employees.

The worker, who asked not to be identified, said thousands of workers later gathered at the site, though it was unclear what prompted the gathering.

Tensions at the site have also been rising due to discrepancies in working conditions.

Many of the workers appeared to be affiliated with a subcontractor at the site: Consolidated Contracting Engineering and Procurement S.A.L Offshore.

Tengizchevroil, the joint venture formed between Chevron, ExxonMobil, KazMunayGas and LUKoil to develop Tengiz, said in a statement that an "interpersonal conflict" occurred "which resulted in injuries to several employees."

No further information was released.

The press service for the Atyrau region, where the project is located said in a statement that 30 people had been treated for various injuries.

The Artyrau city mayor’s office said that a top city official had met with workers, and that the situation had "stabilized."

The federal Interior Ministry said it had opened a criminal investigation into the situation.