Interview: U.S.-led oil smuggle, sanctions cripple Syrian economy

Hummam Sheikh Ali, Xinhua, June 2, 2024 — 

Farhat Jameel Abdullah, Syrian assistant minister of oil and mineral wealth, has raised alarms about how the American occupation and the oil theft by its allied militia, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), harm the Syrian economy.

“The presence of the American occupation and their support for separatist groups has led to the unjust extraction of oil from wells and reservoirs, which will negatively impact the future productivity of these resources and consequently deprive the country of this wealth,” Abdullah said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

He said oil and gas had served as a primary source of revenue for the state treasury and national income, with production from east of the oil-rich Euphrates River being about 350,000 barrels per day.

Now, the region is under the control of the United States and its supporting SDF militias, whose presence, along with other terrorist groups, deprived the Syrian government of its resources and dealt a heavy blow to the national economy and employment.

The United States not only controls the oil-rich areas with its military presence but also imposes a series of crippling economic sanctions on its Western allies.

He said that the bans and sanctions “deprived us of seven exploration companies that were operating in the country before the crisis,” leading to a decrease in reserves and production rates.

He said the losses incurred in the sector, both directly and indirectly, have amounted to approximately 120 billion U.S. dollars so far. Syria, which used to be self-sufficient in oil, had to resort to imports.

“The issue of sanctions, the issue of occupation, has had a major impact on the life of the Syrian citizen,” he said.

To tackle the challenges facing the oil and gas sector, Abdullah said the ministry is exploring alternative strategies to secure oil products for the public and reduce the adverse effects on the economy’s various sectors.

He announced that the ministry is prioritizing investments in the regions west of the Euphrates River and actively exploring new gas fields, emphasizing the importance of increasing production rates and implementing cutting-edge technologies with the assistance of supportive nations.

Abdullah concluded by emphasizing the need for cooperation with friendly countries and the utilization of modern technologies to overcome the challenges facing Syria’s oil and gas sector in Syria. 

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