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Middle East

Syria’s war has caused $21.4 billion losses to its oil industry

File - A man works at a makeshift oil refinery site in al-Mansoura village in Raqqa's countryside, on May 5, 2013. (Reuters/Hamid Khatib)

DAMASCUS: Syria’s oil and gas industries have suffered losses of $21.4 billion since the start of the war three years ago, Oil Minister Suleiman Abbas said Tuesday.

“The circumstances the country is going through have caused considerable losses to the oil and gas sectors,” Abbas said.

Abbas said the war had caused a $3.5 billion direct loss, in terms of stolen and wasted oil and gas, and damage or theft of infrastructure, pipelines and vehicles. He added that indirect losses, or lost profits, accounted for $17.9 billion.

At the start of the revolt, Syria produced 385,000 barrels of oil a day. Production has dropped to 17,000 barrels a day, while gas production has been halved.

In recent months, the jihadist group ISIS has taken control of all the main oil fields in Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria. It is exporting oil through middlemen to Iraq and Turkey.

Meanwhile, since last Thursday, the Syrian regime army has been trying to expel ISIS from the gas field at Shaer, in Homs province.

Despite the war, Abbas said the government was set to complete a gas project near the northern city of Tabaqa, which is under ISIS control.

The plant is scheduled to start operating in mid-August, and is expected to produce 1.22 million cubic meters a day to begin with, rising to 3.2 million by the end of the year.

Asked about the potential risks of opening a new plant near an ISIS-controlled area, the ministry said the site was “secure.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 23, 2014, on page 8.

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