The Islamic State has reportedly lost control of the Hayan natural gas field in Syria’s central province of Homs following a Syrian army operation to retake the strategic oil and gas area.
Syrian military sources cited by media outlets said that mines and explosives planted by ISIS were deactivated after the area was secured.
Syrian troops have also reportedly advanced on Al Taifur, also in the Homs province and approximately 20 kilometers from the city of Palmyra, occupied by ISIS since December.
ISIS has not confirmed its loss of control over the area, nor have any external forces in this conflict, while reports of the recapture of Hayan originate from Syrian pro-government media.
ISIS took control of Hayan when it conquered a wider area in eastern Homs province, including the ancient city of Palmyra, in December 2016.
After its capture, ISIS blew up the Hayan natural gas plant, and then in January, claimed to have blown up pipelines around the plant.
As such, the alleged recapture by the Syrian army comes only after what appears to have been extensive damage to the oil and gas installations in the area.
The Hayan gas plant is said to have turned over three million cubic meters of gas per day, representing the largest electricity facility in Syria’s southern and central areas. The government’s price tag on this facility, when it was built, was nearly US$300 million.
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Syria is already facing a severe energy crisis, with ISIS hijacking significant amounts of its oil and gas, and electricity cuts of up to 20 hours per day across the country.
ISIS has seized a number of oil and gas fields in Syria since 2014, mostly concentrated in the central and eastern regions of the country.
Last week, ISIS reportedly attacked a refinery in Homs with rockets, causing a fire that was extinguished but not before causing some damage. The refinery is one of only two in Syria and the only refinery in Homs province.
By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com
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Damir Kaletovic is a veteran investigative journalist covering Europe and the Middle East, and a senior consultant for Divergente Research.