U.S.-backed Kurdish-dominated militia the Syrian Democratic Forces wrested control over the al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria from the Islamic State, a spokeswoman for the group told Reuters.
Al-Omar is Syria’s largest oil field and produced 30,000 bpd before the civil war, but after 2011, it fell into the hands of Islamic State, which was at one point making US$5.1 million in monthly oil sale revenues on the black market. In 2015, the U.S.-backed coalition destroyed the field.
Al-Omar is located in the Deir Ezzor region – Syria’s richest in oil and gas. Currently, there are two parallel offensives against IS in the region, one led by the Syrian government forces along with their allies from Russia and Iran, and one by rebel groups with the support of the United States.
While the former offensive is focused on the western bank of the Euphrates River, Reuters notes, the U.S.-backed forces are clearing up the eastern bank. Earlier this week, the SDF retook Raqqa from the terrorist group, which had made it its last remaining stronghold in Syria.
The U.S.-backed coalition and the Russian command is holding regular deconfliction meetings aiming to prevent clashes between the two groups fighting IS and last week the SDF handed control of a major gas field in Deir Ezzor to the Russian troops.
Prior to the beginning of the post-Arab Spring civil war in 2011, the Conoco, or Koneko, field’s output was higher than any other in the nation. Named after ConocoPhillips, the company that discovered the field, it produced 450 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
In 2005, after constructing a facility at the field, ConocoPhillips handed over the site to the Syrian Gas Company.
Now, Deutsche Welle notes, everyone will be waiting for the reaction of the Syrian government forces and their Russian and Iranian allies: the Syrian government has vowed to retake all of Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State.
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.