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How Much Oil Is Up For Grabs In Syria?

Though it's as yet uncertain whether the Pentagon is actually going to execute the plan, Trump is mulling keeping a small US troop contingency in Syria in order to "secure the oil". 

The president said at a cabinet meeting Monday: “I always said if you’re going in, keep the oil,” the WSJ reported. “We’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money so that they have some cash flow. Maybe we’ll get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

In response, former special presidential anti-ISIL envoy Brett McGurk, who served under both the Obama and Trump administrations, stated the obvious: “Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state,” he said Monday. “Maybe there are new lawyers, but it was just illegal for an American company to go and seize and exploit these assets."

Oil At Stake In Syria

(Click to enlarge)

Obviously the US doesn't "need" Syrian oil, but would utilize seized oil and gas fields as part of its continued campaign of economic strangulation against Damascus and Tehran.

Syria's smashed war economy has suffered further over the fact that it has for years been cut off from its own domestic energy supplies — first by ISIS occupation of its key oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates, and then by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

But the question remains: how much oil is actually at stake in Syria?

Oil In Syria

(Click to enlarge)

The below analysis is provided by "Ehsani" — a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment Related: Oil Rebounds On Rare Market Optimism

Total reserves are estimated at 2.5 Billion barrels and at least 75% of these reserves are in the fields surrounding Deir Al Zor.

Current revenue from oil sales goes to the [US-backed] SDF, currently estimated at $10 million a month. These revenues are expected to rise should U.S. help in modernizing current fields. SDF can then sell the oil to Damascus and/or Kurdistan in Iraq which will in turn sell to Turkey.

Turkey's current oil consumption is about 1 million barrels a day. Syria's reserves are 2.5 billion barrels and daily production can be quickly increased to approximately 300K barrels a day.

Turkey will also look to obtain direct access to Syria's Rumeilan oil field in the northeast should it complete its seizing of the North-East zone. Between them, Ankara and the SDF (with the protection of U.S military) can soon control up to 90 percent of Syria's 2.5 billion oil reserves.

Syria's 2.5 billion barrels in oil reserves are rather “negligible” compared to say, Saudi Arabia, with oil reserves at around 268 billion barrels (over 100 times that of Syria). Note that the SDF is currently selling Syria’s oil at around $30 per barrel.

By Zerohedge.com 

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on October 23 2019 said:
    Syria’s proven oil reserves amount to 2.5 billion barrels (bb). Compared with other Arab Gulf reserves, they are a drop in the ocean. Before the start of the civil war in 2011, Syria was producing some 385,000 barrels a day (b/d) of which around 200,000 b/d were exported to the European Union (EU).

    Whether the reserves are small or big, they belong to Syria and not the United States or Turkey for that matter. The United States has no reason to stay in Syria occupying Syria’s oilfields in the Deir Ezzor region. The occupation is a spiteful act to deprive Syria of its oil resources.

    The United States has a great weakness to oil. It invaded Iraq in 2003 to get its hands on Iraq's tremendous oil reserves but lost the war and left empty- handed. The ultimate winners were China and Iran. The United States is ogling Venezuela's oil reserves, the world's largest, with envy hoping that by changing the regime there and installing an American puppet , it might get its hands on Venezuela's oil. Now it is trying to steal Syria's very meagre oil reserves.

    The United States is behaving as if it owns the oil. President Trump had the temerity to say we may bring an oil company (probably American) to look after the oilfields and will give some of the oil revenue to the Syrian Kurds. But his main objectives are to use the oil revenue to pay for US troops deployment in Syria and above all continue his campaign of economic strangulation against Damascus.

    However, President Trump may or may not realize that most of the oilfields in the Deir Ezzor region are under control of the Syrian Kurds who will repay his betrayal towards them by surrendering the oilfields to the Syrian government in exchange for protection sooner than he realizes.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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