Before the start of the civil war in Syria, the interest in local deposits showed the largest investors from China, India and the UK. But today, it seems, the main partner of Damascus, will not they, and Russia. However, the “oil” issue for Syria today, most likely not economic, but purely political.
ISIS has hit China
Every day from Syria comes the news of military victories, the government army: the support of Russian aviation soldiers oust the militants of the “Islamic state” of settlements near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Friday fell in the town of Abu Kamal, which since 2012 has been under the control of the “Free Syrian army”, and since July 2014 he was captured and held by terrorists of the “Islamic state”.
Abu Kamal — the last of the major cities, which remained under the control of militants in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Soar. From the beginning of the war, it played a strategic role, since the territory of this province are the country’s largest oil field. The scale of the Middle East, they were, of course, but in the economy of Syria oil exports played a significant role.
The beginning of the civil war in 2011, natural gas production in Syria amounted to 5.3 billion cubic meters, crude oil — almost 400 thousand barrels per day (0.5% of the global total). The entire production was in the hands of the state Syrian Petroleum Company, which after the outbreak of war virtually ceased operations.
After all, oil production in the country was first in the hands of the rebels fighting against the government, then terrorists fighting the government and rebels. In 2014, it is the “Islamic state” controlled virtually all oil and gas production in Syria, and terrorist groups, smuggling of hydrocarbons has also become the main source of income.
But before the civil war his business interests in the oil sector, Syria had a state. In particular, the state oil monopoly of the Syrian Petroleum Company has worked with such multinational monsters like Royal Dutch Shell (Britain-Netherlands), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (India) and China National Petroleum Company (China).
Separate deposits in the valley of the Euphrates, near the Syrian-Iraqi border controlled by France’s Total, Suncor Energy, canadian, Luxembourg Kylczyk Investments, Egyptian IRP, American Triton, Croatian NA-Industrija nafte, and others.
A motley group, don’t you think?!
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Is particularly true of the British company Gulfsands Petroleum, a minority stake in which belonged to the multimillionaire Rami Makhlouf, cousin of Bashar al-Assad (father of businessman, Mohamed Makhlouf, whose sister was married to the former head of state Hafez al-Assad). The family of Mahmutov the beginning of the civil war created a huge business Empire, assets of which were estimated at $ 5 billion.
Among the international players with interests in Syria, also called the three Russian companies — Tatneft, Uralmash, and “Soyuzneftegaz.”
“Soyuzneftegaz”, associated with the former (from 1993 to 1996) Minister of energy of Russia Yury Shafranik became the first international company, which after the outbreak of war (in December 2013) signed with the official Damascus of the agreement on cooperation in the energy sector: he meant exploration in Syrian territorial waters at the cost of $ 90 million was Guarded by geologists of the Russian sailors.
With modest hydrocarbon reserves, and Syria, however, is of interest due to the unique location for laying out potential routes of transit of energy resources. It is worth Recalling that in 2008 Syria was operational phase of the Arab gas pipeline — it stretches from the southern border with Jordan to the tishrin power plant and Deir Ali. A gasket was engaged in the Russian company “Stroytransgaz”.
It was planned that the pipeline will continue North to ensure the transit of “blue fuel” in Turkey. “Stroytransgaz” has won the contract, however, the branch was never built because of the outbreak of the civil war. But since there are talks about his possible renewal.
External players don’t need “the Syrian” peace
So who will get control over hydrocarbon fields in Syria after the war? This question “Free press” addressed to scientific officer of the strategic culture Foundation and Institute of Oriental studies Andrei Areshev.
— The issues of economic reconstruction of the country and the distribution of income from the sale of energy one way or another should become part of the process of political settlement in Syria, which actively supports the Russian side, — said Areshev. In particular, the alleged Congress of the national dialogue is meant to start a discussion on the future state structure of the country.
However, there will be a lot of pitfalls. In particular, the dialogue between official Damascus and the Kurds have not yet led to significant breakthroughs. And the problem of external players can be radically different from the goals of establishing lasting peace in the country.
“SP”: — Can the oil and gas in Syria — which is now again in control of the Damascus — to be the source of a new round of conflict? Indeed, in 2011, a civil war started by this script…
— First of all, it should be noted that a portion of the hydrocarbon deposits on the East Bank of the Euphrates is still under the control of “Syrian democratic forces”.
You are right that the economic factor played a significant role in the occurrence and spread of the Syrian conflict. Unfortunately, terrorist groups are often used as leverage outside influence, could seriously hamper the recovery and exploitation of oil and gas. By the way, this phenomenon is typical not only for Syria. Remember Iraq, Libya, Algeria…
The spoils of Syria as one of “Bashneft”
The Director of the Institute of energy policy (former Deputy Minister of energy of the Russian Federation) Vladimir Milov sure that the oil problem before Syria is almost not worth it. Accordingly, there is nothing to divide.
— On the topic of oil in Syria is extremely exaggerated by journalists — said Milov in an interview with “Free press”. — People hear the words “Syria” and “oil” and start to get excited: it is an old tradition to associate all the conflicts in the middle East with the oil interests. But experts have always said that Syrian oil is almost there, it’s a pathetic drop. Syria mined the whole country before the war as much as we have one “Bashneft”, and almost all of it went to cover domestic consumption.
“SP”: — But there are fields along the Euphrates, where the most fierce fighting, by the way, is still going on?
— It is clear that in any war for some fields there will be a struggle. But in Syria deposits of very poor quality, the oil is heavy, it is not easy to recycle. Plus Assad is under Western sanctions, it will not give him a chance, especially anything to export. Now Syria is generally a net importer.
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