Middle East

Syria oil output dives 96 percent: minister

Free Syrian Army fighters stand near oil wells that are now under the control of the Free Syrian Army, according to activists, in Raqqa province September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Molhem Barakat

DAMASCUS: Oil production in Syria has plunged by 96 percent since the start of the 2011 anti-government uprising, with most wells now in rebel-held areas, the oil minister said Sunday.Suleiman al-Abbas said Syria was currently producing a mere 14,000 barrels per day, down from its prewar level of 385,000 bpd, state news agency SANA reported.

He blamed the plunge in production on “an increase in attacks by terrorists against oil facilities, Western sanctions and the decision by foreign oil firms to suspend operations” in Syria.

Most of Syria’s oil wells are in the east and north of the country, in areas controlled by the rebels who the government describes as “terrorists.”

The oil industry was the main earner of foreign currency before the conflict erupted in March 2011.

A collapse in production has triggered petrol shortages across the country, bolstered black market sales and prompted the government to import almost all its oil needs, mostly from ally Iran.





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