Release of Policy Report: Assessment of Syrian Energy Sanctions

Article  •  Publié sur Souria Houria le 25 août 2011

This report outlines the Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of the Syrian Integrated Energy Supply System and recommends targeting energy sanctions to further weaken the Assad regime. The report also assesses the socioeconomic impact and the effectiveness of the policy recommendations of a proposed imposition of a Syria-specific energy sanctions. The report is prepared by SRCC Energy Team and edited by Ausama Monajed.


The Assad regime exports an estimated 148,000 bpd. There are two main grades, Syrian Light and Soweidie. Currently all exports are of the Soweidie grade since local refineries need Syrian Light to process for products for the domestic market. The technical specifications of Soweidie are worth noting as they affect consideration of sanctions. Oil revenues account for about a third of the regime’s income and are the main resource for financing the repressive organs of the Assad who employs over a quarter of a million security personnel. If the regime is to be hurt, its financial body should be targeted, as the absence of money equals the absence of hired mercenaries and thugs. The regime has been suffering financial difficulties since the start of the revolution. The Assad regime has no sufficient foreign reserves to withstand the effects of oil sanctions for a number of months as it is already facing problems feeding internal need due to the usage of gas by the heavy armored units utilized to suppress the demonstrators.

Executive Summary:

The regime’s exports are all handled by Sytrol, the state monopoly company. Relatively few refineries are adapted to handle crude grades as sour and heavy as the Syrian grade. It is shipped through Aframax tankers – something like eight shipments a month – through export terminals at Tartous and Banyas. The IEA estimates that over 90% of Syrian crude exports are sold into Europe.

The Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC) handles oil production and development and controls about half of the country’s oil production. The SPC has partnered with foreign oil companies to undertake exploration and production projects while retaining 50% stake. These partnerships are the regime’s vulnerability. Currently, the shares of Syria’s main oil producer, Al-Furat Petroleum Company, is owned 50% by SPC, and 50% by other foreign shareholders including Royal Dutch Shell, Petro Canada, China’s CNPC, and Gulfsands, the British oil company which Rami Makhlouf, the President’s sanctioned cousin, is a main shareholder in.

Other foreign companies investing in Syria are the American Halliburton Oilfield Services (with many known stakeholders, such as Dick Cheney) which operates the Soweidi Oilfield in addition to Schlumberger, Crosco Drilling, and CGG. Additionally, crude oil exports from Sytrol, the regime’s oil marketing firm, go mostly to OECD European countries; particularly Germany, Italy, and France.

It is noted that Shell, Total, BP, and OMV have purchased Syrian crude since the uprising, thus directly contributing to the budget the Assads have used for hiring mercenaries and buying illegal weapons to kill innocent civilians. Royal Dutch Shell bought 586400 barrels on 29 May 11, Austria’s OMV bought 586400 barrels on 28 Jun 11, BP bought 586400 barrels on 10 Apr 11, and another 586400 barrels on 20 Apr 11.

Oil sanctions mean an immediate freeze on constant income to the Assads, rendering them unable to pay for at least a quarter of their mercenaries. What is proposed is directly inspired by the desires of the Syrian people, who are the daily victims of the Assads’ brutality. They know that once the regime runs out of money, it will run out of supporters.