Oil exports, which once provided Syria with 25% of all government revenue, are almost none existent now. The war has crippled the oil industry; over 4 million Syrians have been made homeless, and due to the collapse of the farming industry, many are starving, causing 1.1 million to flee the country.
The lack of work in Syria has meant that raw crude oil is actually one of the few commodities of worth that the country produces. Joshua Landis, the leader of the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, explains that “oil is the only thing that Syria has going for it. Farming has collapsed, and that is why we are seeing this outflow of refugees, they are starving, they don’t have the basics to sustain them.”
Some enterprising, and rather fool-hardy Syrians have begun refining the crude oil in homemade refineries in the open fields, trying to produce useable petroleum products, and then sell them on.
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The video here shows a group of teenagers outside of the city of Aleppo, tending fires underneath large vats of crude oil that they are heating in order to syphon off the useable by products into jerry cans.
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One man told Bloomberg reporters that Benzene could fetche 11,000 Syrian pounds ($157) per barrel and mazut 12,500-13,000 Syrian pounds per barrel.
In January 2013 Syria’s proven reserves were stated as 2.5 billion barrels, yet this wealth cannot help the country at the moment, as many fields are controlled by the rebels, whereas the Homs and Banias refineries are controlled by Assad’s government. For the time being the only ones who are likely to profit from Syria’s oil, are the children refining it out in the fields.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com