Work at an oil construction site managed by the giant Chevron-Exxon JV for the Tengiz oilfield has been suspended amid a massive brawl over a woman that’s left some 150 Indian nationals stranded and 30 Jordanian and Lebanese oil workers injured as diplomats from various countries have been called in.
The brawl at the 3GP oil construction site began over the weekend after a picture of a female Kazakh oil worker was shared on social media.
According to local media, a Libyan employee published a photo with a Kazakh co-worker in a jokingly suggestive pose, angering the community and Kazakh workers.
The photo, circulated on a messaging app, infuriated workers who went on a rampage, attacking anyone of Arab origin.
The footage of the incident uploaded to the internet showed Kazakh’s brutally beating their co-workers, many portrayed covered in blood and badly bruised. The assaulted are mostly Jordanians, according to reports.
The author of the controversial picture, Libyan national Eli Daoud, identified as the chief administrator for logistics, later posted a video apologizing for the photo.
The work site is managed by Tengizchevroil (TCO), a joint venture of Chevron and ExxonMobil, and security forces are now on the scene.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has ordered officials to monitor the case, while Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein has directed his Cabinet to do the same. India’s Mission in Kazakhstan tweeted an emergency number to help the stranded Indians, whose role in the incident remains unclear.
Radio Free Europe reported that some 150 citizens of Lebanon were evacuated from the oilfield under police protection.
Local authorities in Kazakhstan’s Atyrau region are attempting to use the incident to gain political capital, with Governor Nurlan Nogayev telling the Tengizchevroil management that the brawl occurred due to disparity in living conditions between foreign contractors and local Kazakh employees, with locals being disadvantaged. Nogayev suggested that while the photograph may have been the trigger, the real cause runs far deeper.
Almost two years ago, a brawl erupted between some 700 Kazakh and Indian construction workers in the Kazakh capital, with fighting leading to road closures and the expelling of 60 Indian nationals from the country.