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Cablegate: Turkish Trucker Strike Against Somo Crumbles

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1.(SBU) As of late 12/24, the wildcat Turkish trucker strike
against SOMO started to crumble and, by mid-day 12/26, almost
all Turkish oil supply companies started fueling transport
vehicles to resume shipments to SOMO. U.S. military sources
report that, as of early 12/27, 112 SOMO-related vehicles are in
northern Iraq awaiting southbound convoying. Turkish oil sector
contractors predict that that number will rise rapidly and
request "every U.S. effort to open the Habur gate to its maximum
capacity both southbound and northbound to get fuel flowing
again at required levels." The strike was "solved" through a
variety of mixed wage concessions and perceived driver need for
renewed cash flow. End Summary.

2.(SBU) According to Turkish oil industry contacts, the wildcat
Turkish strucker strike, begun on December 6, against SOMO
started to crumble late on 12/24. Reportedly one to two small
Turkish SOMO consortium players, comprising approximately five
to ten percent of daily SOMO contracting, and reportedly
including Kizil, paid "very significant wage increases" to
truckers and started filling tankers as early as late 12/24.
Several other suppliers over the weekend agreed to "small wage
increases" (note: industry contacts would not give exact
figures, but several speculated that "the others" paid
approximately 5-15 percent increases. End Note.) Large
players, such as OPET, reportedly the biggest Turkish SOMO
consortium supplier, and Petrol Ofisi, perhaps third or fourth
largest supplier, according to their own accounts "broke the
strike" and paid no wage increases, but started recovering
sub-contracted trucking groups for fueling throughout the course
of the weekend. (Comment: confirmation or contrasting
information from SOMO as to its Turkish oil supplier consortium
composition and accounts of the strike's breakdown are welcome;
we are assembling these accounts from a variety of fragmented
sources whose accounts are difficult to verify on an individual
basis. End Comment.)

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3.(SBU) U.S. military logistic contacts in northern Iraq report
receiving up to 112 tanker trucks related to SOMO as of late
12/26 and having them ready on 12/27 for southbound convoys.
This number consists of 67 Benzene, 27 Diesel, 18 Kerosene and
no LPG tankers. According to U.S. military sources, this is
about 24 percent of the daily SOMO requirement. The daily SOMO
requirement is 160 benzene trucks, 180 diesel, 37 kerosene, and
70 LPG tankers. On a related note, regarding U.S. military
sustainment fuel shipments, which had been affected by a
sympathy strike/slowdown, there were 180 JP8 and 17 MOGAS
tankers ready for southbound convoys as of early 12/27. Petrol
Ofisi, the main Turkish sustainment fuel contractor, said it was
resuming its regular MOGAS and diesel filling levels
"immediately" now that it drivers presumedly would not be
harassed near the Habur gate by wildcat SOMO strikers.

4.(SBU) OPET and Petrol Ofisi senior level contacts stressed
the need "for the U.S. government to make every effort to open
the Habur gate to its maximum capacity both southbound and
northbound to get fuel flowing again at required levels." OPET
said that it would fuel tankers "above the daily load
requirement to start making up for missed shipments." (Comment:
AMCON ADANA underscores the need for the Habur gate to be open
both southbound and northbound above the currently informally
agreed 1500 transits per day north and south-bound - i.e., total
3,000 daily transits. Limited Turkish trucker supply dictates
that, even over a short timeframe, recovering and refueling
Turkish trucks after successful return through the Habur gate is
as important as getting them initially through the Habur gate to
Iraqi download points. Backups northbound caused by both
lengthy Turkish customs searches for contraband and Iraqi
inconsistently-timed northbound "pushes" will need immediate
additional coordination and perhaps will require different
resource allocations, even if short-term, to be successful. For
example, more Turkish Jandarma to conduct inbound customs
screening would be helpful in reducing the already 50-plus
kilometer northbound backlog of Turkish trucks. Tackling this
complex task will require joint efforts by both the GoT and IIG.
End Comment.)

5.(SBU) Comment: For now, the strike seems to be over, but its
"resolution" was not comprehensive and reportedly is based on
varying wage concessions by different Turkish oil supplier
companies with their trucking sub-contractors. This could
result in further problems once news of varying wage concessions
becomes more widespread. The Turkish oil supply companies also
still may seek increased 2005 contracts with SOMO. End Comment.


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