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Tankers carrying oil from Iran to Syria have been intercepted in the Red Sea and delayed shipments of oil to Syria, the Prime Minister of Syria, Hussein Arnous, was quoted as saying.
According to the prime minister of the conflict-ravaged Syria, as many as seven oil tankers en route to Syria have been intercepted in what he called "terrorist attacks." Two of the oil tankers have been delayed for more than a month in the Red Sea before loading, Reuters reported, citing state media which carried Arnous' words.
The tanker delays have exacerbated fuel shortages in Syria, which will be looking to import more crude to meet its fuel demand, the prime minister said.
Maritime security company Dryad Global said on Sunday that "Syrian Prime Minister says two tankers heading from #Iran to #Syria were "targeted" in Red Sea."
Quote-tweeting this, TankerTrackers.com said that "They both made it just fine to Syria even though they took a lengthy pit-stop at the Iranian purported "spy ship", SAVIZ. One of them has delivered a million barrels of Iranian oil to the Baniyas refinery while the other one carrying equal amount, is keeping 30,905 m distance."
Western sanctions on Syria and the U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil exports have made Iranian shipments to Syria more difficult in recent years. Syria, which has become increasingly dependent on imports of crude after the conflict in the country started in 2011, has relied on imports from Iran to cover its needs.
"We have become dependent on imported oil and we have used up foreign currency in large amounts to pay for petroleum products," Reuters quoted Arnous as saying in Parliament.
Most of Syria's oil is in the northeast of the country, which is under the control of a Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of opposition formation Syrian Democratic Forces, which has enjoyed U.S. support through the prolonged conflict.
According to Arnous, Syria now pumps just 20,000 bpd of oil, while around 400,000 bpd has been lost from oil fields in northeastern Syria.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com