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

Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget recycles oil tax increases

02/02/2015 US President Barack Obama has proposed his federal budget for fiscal 2016 that he said was designed to help a beleaguered middle class take advanta...

Tight oil price test

02/02/2015 The basic job for Oil & Gas Journal writers is to pick the right words and put them in the right order, which is often harder to do than it mig...

Syncrude sees additional $260-400 million in possible budget cuts

02/02/2015 The estimate for capital expenditures has also been reduced to $451 million net to COS, which includes $104 million of remaining expenditures on ma...

Fluid typing extends production in Chinese gas reservoir

02/02/2015 Comprehensive evaluation and classified recognition (CECR) of fluid typing and zonation (FTZ) is a prerequisite for developing multilayer sandstone...

US oil, gas industry eager to build on past successes

02/02/2015 The US oil and gas industry entered 2015 optimistically as a dramatically improved US supply outlook's economic and security benefits became increa...

Victoria extends drilling, fracing ban

01/30/2015 The new Victorian Labor government of premier Daniel Andrews has extended the coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and hydraulic fracturing ban in the s...

Oxy cuts capital budget by a third

01/30/2015 In the midst of falling oil prices, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Houston, expects to reduce its total capital spending for 2015 to $5.8 billion from...

Gas-turbine units in transit to Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field

01/28/2015 JSC Gazprom Neft reported that six gas-turbine power units are in transit to Vostochno-Messoyakhskoye field in the Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Region.

Eni lets $2.54-billion contract for Ghana FPSO

01/28/2015 Eni SPA unit Eni Ghana Exploration & Production Ltd. has let a $2.54-billion contract to Malaysia’s Yinson Holdings Bhd. for the chartering, op...

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



Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realties

When 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



On Demand

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


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