Oil sanctions have cost Syria $2 billion, oil minister says

Syria’s oil minister said sanctions imposed by Western governments on his country’s petroleum exports have cost $2 billion in lost revenues since last September.

“We have suffered important losses as a result of our inability to export crude oil and petroleum products,” said Sufian Alao, adding that the shortfall and losses from Sept. 1, 2011, until now add up to that $2 billion total.

The European Union, which bought most of Syria’s 130,000 b/d of oil exports, imposed sanctions on Sept. 2, following a similar decision by the US.

Alao said the embargo has caused a plunge in production of 150,000 b/d. Alao also said sanctions were imposed on five state-owned firms, namely General Petroleum Corp., Syrian Co. for Oil Transport, Syrian Gas Co., Syrian Petroleum Co., and Sytrol.

In his statement of losses, Alao—adopting a government view—said “terrorist” attacks on oil and gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure targets had killed 21 workers, disrupted supplies and caused an estimated $34 million in damages.

In December, the United Nations said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces had killed more than 5,000 people since the unrest erupted in mid-March. The government responded by saying that “armed terrorist groups” had killed 2,000 security personnel.

Alao told state media that Syria was still trying to replace EU crude oil contracts with new customers, but that it was having trouble securing the necessary shipping insurance and trade credit.

The outlook for Syria’s oil exports worsened after UK Prime Minister David Cameron called on Jan. 19 for harsher sanctions on Damascus in an effort to further weaken al-Assad’s regime.

Cameron said, “Britain needs to lead the way in making sure we tighten the sanctions, the travel bans, the asset freezes, on Syria.” He also accused Iran and the Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement of supporting al-Assad, who he called “a wretched tyrant.”

Current EU sanctions target 30 entities and 86 individual Syrians, but EU diplomats said a further 8 companies or institutions and 22 individuals would be targeted by stricter sanctions to be agreed by member states on Jan. 23—the same day that further sanctions are to be considered against Iran.

Meanwhile, US officials said they identified an Iranian-chartered tanker attempting to carry Syrian oil to the Islamic Republic for resale, with the proceeds apparently to be returned to Damascus.

Earlier reports said the tanker took on 91,000 tonnes of crude in late November at Syria’s Mediterranean seaport of Baniyas, and intended to unload it at Iran's Ras Bahregan oil terminal.

US officials notified the ship’s insurers and registry that in picking up the Syrian oil, the ship had violated US sanctions that prohibit doing business with Syria's petroleum sector.

The tanker was insured by the Mutual Protection and Indemnity Club (P&I) and registered by the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, headquartered in Washington, DC.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

Related Articles

EPA leads investigation of crude discharge at BP Whiting refinery

03/26/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency took formal charge of investigation and cleanup efforts after an undetermined amount of crude oil spilled in...

EIA: China exceeds US as the largest net petroleum importer

03/26/2014 In September 2013, China’s net imports of petroleum and other liquids exceeded those of the US on a monthly basis, making it the world’s largest ne...

EIA: Tight oil production pushes US supply to more than 10% of world’s total

03/26/2014 US tight oil production averaged 3.22 million b/d in the fourth quarter of 2013, pushing overall US crude oil production to more than 10% of the wo...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil futures drop with HSC partially reopened

03/26/2014 Crude oil prices fluctuated but ended the New York trading session down modestly Mar. 25 after the US Coast Guard reopened the Houston Ship Channel...

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