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Zainab Calcuttawala

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Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field

Syria

U.S.-backed rebel forces handed control of Syria’s largest gas field to Russian forces yesterday, following talks between Russian and Kurdish officials in northeast Syria, according to a new report by Zero Hedge.

The senior officials recently met in Qamishli, possibly landing on a commercial deal for control of the major Syrian fossil fuel asset. 

The Conoco gas field, located near the contentious Deir Ezzor area, was liberated from Islamic State forces at the end of last month. Russian forces assisted the Syrian rebels in capturing the region, which was one of the terrorist organization’s main strongholds in Syria. 

The Deir Ezzor province and its natural resources provided the Islamic State with much of the cash it needed to fund its early operations and recruitment campaigns.

Prior to the beginning of the post-Arab Spring civil war in 2011, the Conoco 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. 

The Lebanese newspaper al-Masdar broke news of the field’s handover to Russian forces. Citing Syrian military reports, it said the SDF and Russia struck a deal allowing President Bashar Al Assad’s regime to resume control of the Conoco field.

Related: Can Trump Drive A Wedge Between Saudi-Russian Alliance?

Russia’s entry into Syrian politics coincides with its involvement in post-Kurdish independence Iraq. Since the vote occurred at the end of last month, Moscow has been making bold moves to consolidate a power vacuum in the absence of a strong American political or military presence in the region.

Russia’s state-controlled oil giant Rosneft said on Thursday that it had agreed with the Kurdistan Regional Government to take majority control in the operation of the oil pipeline in the Kurdish region. Rosneft’s share in the project may be as high as 60 percent, while the other project participant with a 40-percent stake will be KAR Group—the current pipeline operator, the Russian company said.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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