Syria Oil Sector Losses Top $100bn Since Start of war

Syria’s petroleum sector has incurred losses of more than $100bn since the start of the civil war more than a decade ago, the country’s oil ministry said yesterday.

Losses since the start of the civil war in 2011 have come to $100.5bn, the ministry said without elaborating on whether this was in terms of lost hydrocarbon revenues, losses due to damaged infrastructure or both.

The last decade of war has brought about a collapse in Syria’s oil and gas production to just a fraction of what it was, and seen the country make the switch from a net crude oil exporter to an importer.

The ministry said oil production in 2021 averaged 85,900 b/d — well below the 383,000 b/d Syria was producing in 2010, before the start of the war. Of this, only around 16,000 b/d is being produced in fields under the government’s control and therefore reaching Syria’s two operational refineries, the 110,000 b/d Homs and 140,000 Banias refineries. The remaining 70,000 b/d comes from the fields on the east bank — an area that continues to be controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the US military. Syrian oil production peaked at just over 600,000 b/d in the mid-1990s and has been on the decline ever since.

The ongoing unrest and dwindling domestic crude output have forced the country to rely on imports of crude and oil products from its sanctions-hit ally Iran to meet domestic demand. This has also forced the country’s two refineries to operate well under capacity for much of the past few years.

The ministry estimated that the Homs and Banias refineries, together, produced around 5.7mn t of oil products in the past year. That included 944,000t (21,800 b/d) of premium and 11,000t of regular gasoline, as well as 1.519mn t (31,000 b/d) of diesel, 2.734mn t (48,300 b/d) of fuel oil and 77,000t of asphalt.

The ministry also put Syria’s gas production at 12.5mn m3/d in 2021 — a little more than a third of what it was in the first quarter of 2011. Of this, around 79pc was delivered to the country’s ministry of electricity, 6pc to the ministry of industry and 15pc to the oil ministry.