US Senators urge sanctions on Syria's oil, gas industry

Some 60 US Senators, led by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), have written President Barack Obama, urging him to step up sanctions on Syria, with special focus on the country’s oil and gas industry.

“We ask that you engage with our European allies and European energy companies on ceasing the purchase of Syrian oil and investment in Syria's oil and gas sectors,” the senators wrote.

“We also request that you work swiftly to identify and implement additional sanctions-including on Syria's banking sector-to send a clear message to the Syrian government that its behavior will not be tolerated,” the senators wrote.

The letter joins other calls on Obama to step up sanctions against the Syrian government, which is accused of using repressive acts in an effort to stifle political opposition to the rule of the country’s leader President Bashar al-Assad.

US congressional members also are considering a bipartisan energy sanctions bill that would exert pressure on Al-Assad’s regime in an effort to stop the bloodshed.

Syrian security forces are reported to have used tanks, gunfire, and mass arrests in efforts to crush a revolt against 41 years of authoritarian rule by the Al-Assad family. Human rights groups say more than 1,600 people have been killed.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), as well as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced bills targeting investment in Syria’s energy sector.

 

EIA reports

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the main foreign producing consortium is the Al-Furat Petroleum Co., a joint venture established in 1985. Its current stakeholders are state-owned Syrian Petroleum Co., 50% interest, Shell Oil 32%, and others, including China's CNPC.

Asian national oil companies and smaller independents have been the most active in recent exploration tenders, including Gulfsands, led by Sinochem, EIA said.

Under the bill proposed by Lieberman, Gillibrand, and Kirk, Obama would be called on to block access to the US financial system, markets, and federal contracts for companies that invest in Syria's energy sector, purchase the country's oil, and sell gasoline to Syria.

“These bills are modeled on Iran sanctions laws that are successfully squeezing Iran’s energy sector,” said Mark Dubowitz is executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“It’s time to persuade Assad’s energy partners that their support for the regime is bad for business -- not to mention their reputations,” said Dubowitz, who noted that Syria receives strong support from Iran.

“Iran has reportedly promised Assad $5.5 billion in loans and 290,000 barrels of oil each day, further underscoring how concerned Tehran is about his survival,” Dubowitz said.

 Dubowitz said the presence of companies connected with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria also suggests that the IRGC understands the importance of Syrian energy to Assad’s survival.

“Syrian energy sanctions could thus be useful by both tightening the screws on Assad and costing Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei resources he needs to withstand western pressure on his battered regime,” Dubowitz said.

Such concerns were underlined earlier this week when Iran’s parliament approved the appointment of IRGC Brig. Gen. Rostam Qasemi as minister of oil, marking a major victory for hardliners in asserting control over the country’s most important revenue sector (OGJ Online, Aug. 3, 2011). 

The statements by Dubowitz and the US senators came as European Union members agreed on Thursday to further extend sanctions on Syria but stopped short of targeting the oil industry and banks.

EU ambassadors meeting in Brussels agreed that more names should be added to a sanctions list that already targets Al-Assad and 34 other individuals as well as military-linked firms associated with the suppression of dissent.

They also agreed that the possibility of extending sanctions to the oil industry should be considered, but stopped short of a decision, saying that further sanctions would depend on recommendations from the EU delegation in Damascus and EU states.

Meanwhile, Syria's Oil and Gas Minister Sufian Allaw said that oil output in the first half of 2011 increased year on year despite the chronic nationwide unrest.

Syria's oil production in the period was estimated at 70.092 million bbl with an average of 387,250 b/d, a rise of 957 b/d year on year, according to Allaw, who added that the country exported 27.793 million bbl of light and heavy oil in the period.

Allaw said Syria's gas production in the six-month period was 5.158 bcm with an average of 30.29 million cubic meters per day, up 3 million cubic meters per day over the same period of last year.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com

 

Related Articles

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude prices settle higher on Saudi oil hike

03/04/2015 Oil prices rose on the New York and London markets Mar. 3 after Saudi Arabia raised the official price for its oil by $1/bbl for US delivery and $1...

Bear Head LNG requests DOE permits to export US natural gas

03/03/2015 Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd.’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Bear Head LNG Corp. and Bear Head LNG LLC (USA), have filed an application with the US Depa...

EIA forecasts continued rise in US oil production from gulf

03/03/2015 Crude oil production from the Gulf of Mexico will reach 1.52 million b/d in 2015 and 1.61 million b/d in 2016—or respectively 16% and 17% of total ...

Pennsylvania governor proposes natural gas severance tax

03/03/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a $29.9 billion budget on Mar. 3 that includes $2.5 billion of net tax increases for fiscal 2016, including a 5...

Shell moves to business-as-usual plan for strike-impacted refineries

03/03/2015 As the United Steelworkers union (USW) strike enters its fifth week, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which serves as lead company for National Oil Bargainin...

BOEM proposes lease sale for western Gulf of Mexico

03/03/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development, i...

Shell Canada withdraws application for Pierre River heavy oil project

03/03/2015

Shell Canada Ltd. has withdrawn its regulatory application for the proposed Pierre River heavy oil mine north of Fort McMurray.

Anadarko cuts spending, stalls well completions

03/03/2015 Anadarko Petroleum Corp. on Mar. 3 said it will cut spending 33% during 2015 compared with 2014 and will reduce drilling and defer 125 onshore well...

Petrobras to divest $13.7 billion in 2015-16

03/03/2015 Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) plans to divest $13.7 billion in 2015-16, up from the previously reported $5-11 billion in the company’s busines...
White Papers

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected