Five underwater pipelines carrying crude oil were sabotaged this weekend, the Syrian Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ministry said, as reported by state news agency SANA.
The ministry said a leak from the pipelines was discovered on Saturday and divers carried out an inspection to find out that not one but five pipelines had been damaged. The damage done, however, must not have been extensive, because the ministry also said repairs have started immediately and the pipelines would return to normal operation in hours.
A later statement by the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali Ghanem, said that six pipelines had been vandalized. The network carries crude oil from the coast to tankers at the port of Banias. The port city houses one of Syria’s two refineries. The other is located in Homs, in central Syria.
Last month U.S.-led forces blew up three oil tankers in Syria in the latest push against the Syrian government which is fighting rebel groups in their last remaining stronghold in Syria, in Idlib.
Syria is heavily dependent on crude oil imports through the Mediterranean, with a lot of the oil coming from Iran. Before the civil war broke out in 2011, the country produced some 350,000 bpd, the AP reports, while now production averages some 24,000 bpd, while consumption is about 136,000 bpd.
U.S. sanctions against Syria and Iran have affected supply gravely, however, with a series of fuel shortages resulting from the U.S. and European sanctions against Syria and the U.S. sanctions on Iran that have caused a squeeze in Iran’s shipments abroad. According to Kpler data, Iran’s crude oil loading over the first half of June averaged 645,000 bpd, but most of this did not end up at an importing country’s ports: according to the data provider, some 82 percent of the oil is still floating in the Persian Gulf.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.